Thursday, July 11, 2013

Smoke Alarms Save Lives: New Maryland State Law Went Into Effect on July 1st

By: Battalion Chief Mark Davis

During the 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the thirty-eight year old Maryland Smoke Alarm Law was completely rewritten and updated to take advantage of new technology. With the full support of the Maryland Fire Service, Senate Bill 969 and House Bill 1413 passed unanimously in both chambers and have been signed into law by Governor O'Malley. The Maryland Smoke Alarm Law will now be compatible with applicable national codes including, "NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarms and Signaling Code" and the "International Residential Code" for new construction. More importantly, the law will require over the course of the next few years an upgrade in smoke alarm coverage in existing homes. Under provisions of the new law, a single 9-volt battery operated smoke alarm in the second floor hallway will no longer be adequate in some existing older homes. The Maryland Smoke Alarm Law will require a minimum of one smoke alarm on every level of the home. Where battery operated smoke alarms are acceptable, sealed battery operated smoke alarms with long life batteries and hush button features will now be required.

Over the years, many fire and rescue departments in Maryland have been actively involved in very successful smoke alarm give away/installation programs to protect the residents of their communities. These programs have typically involved the use of smoke alarms with replaceable 9-volt batteries. In general, these devices have worked fine until the occupant activates the alarm due to burnt toast or frying bacon and quickly removes the battery to stop the alerting noise; or the annoying chirp of the low battery alarm at 3:00 a.m. results in removal of the smoke alarm battery. Dead or missing smoke alarm batteries have been an aspect in many loss of life fires and continue to be a factor in Maryland and across the United States.

The new smoke alarms will initially cost a few dollars more; however eliminating the need to purchase and replace the battery once or twice every year will actually save money over the ten year life of the new sealed battery smoke alarm.  In Montgomery County, fire/rescue personnel are actively involved in smoke alarm inspections and installations and will most likely be moving to the new style smoke alarm in the very near future.

Any one who resides in Montgomery County and who needs a smoke alarm or would like their smoke alarms checked should contact their local fire station.  For additional information, please review the Maryland Smoke Alarm Technology Task Force Report dated August 2012 online or contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 410-653-8980.

No comments: