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Fire Sprinkler Installation - June 7, 2012

Last Updated on Sep 27, 2012 at 4:27pm | Permits & Inspection Division

Fire Sprinkler Installation - June 7, 2012

The Board of Garrett County Commissioners in their effort to keep Garrett County residents informed of important State of Maryland mandates – has announced that all new housing starts in Maryland, including Garrett County, will be required to have fire sprinklers installed after October 1, 2012.

Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation, which amends Maryland Building Performance Standards to prohibit local jurisdictions from excluding automatic fire sprinkler system requirements for townhouses and one and two-family dwellings.

The Board met with John Nelson,  Director, Department of Planning & Land Development and James Torrington, Chief, Department of Planning & Land Development - Permits and Inspections Division, to review county building codes updates, which follow on the heels of Maryland’s 2012 edition of the International Residential Code.  Every three years, Maryland amends building standards, of which local jurisdictions typically adopt six months later. However, Garrett County will delay making changes to its building code until the new sprinkler requirement takes effect.
“The county cannot weaken fire suppression requirements,” Mr. Nelson explained to the Board during the June 5, 2012 public meeting. He also said that the new sprinkler requirements “will drive up the costs of construction significantly.”

There are exceptions to the new sprinkler law. One includes buildings without electricity, such as homes of Amish families, who may shun modern conveniences. Two other exceptions are valid until January 1, 2016: A new dwelling unit doesn’t require a sprinkler system if EITHER (1) the lot was subject to a valid unexpired public works utility agreement executed before March 1, 2011 OR (2) the lot is served by an existing water line, installed before March 1, 2011, that is less than one-inch in size, approved and owned by the water system whose mains are fully operational.

Under provisions of another new Maryland law, called The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, the Board also reminds the public of the July 1, 2012 deadline for persons to apply for percolation tests on properties planned for subdivisions. After that day, major subdivisions of greater than seven lots may not be approved utilizing on-site sewage or septic systems.

State officials maintain septic systems leach harmful nitrogen loads into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  The Maryland General Assembly passed the septic system law, based on recommendations from the governor’s Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal.

For more information on percolation tests, contact the Environmental Health Division of the Garrett County Health Department at 301-334-7760. For building code information, contact the Department of Planning & Land Development - Permits and Inspections Division at 301-334-7470.