Smoke Detectors and Sprinkler Systems

Smoke Detectors

General Requirements

Each sleeping area in a residential dwelling must be provided with at least 1 approved smoke detector that senses visible or invisible particles of combustion and installed in a manner and location approved by the Maryland Fire Prevention Commission. The detector must provide an alarm suitable to warn the occupants. The landlord is responsible for installing smoke detectors according to these specifications in their rental units. Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-102

Maintenance

The landlord is required to repair or replace a tenant’s smoke detector upon tenant’s written notification by certified mail or in person of the failure of the smoke detector. If the tenant personally notifies the landlord of the failure of a smoke detector, the landlord should provide a written receipt acknowledging the notification. Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-102
A tenant may not remove a smoke detector or render a smoke detector inoperative. A landlord may require a refundable deposit for a smoke detector not exceeding the value of the smoke detector.

Deaf or Hearing Impaired Tenant

On written request of a tenant who is deaf or hearing impaired, the landlord must provide a smoke detector that, when activated, provides a signal that is approved by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory for electrical appliances and is sufficient to warn the deaf or hearing impaired tenant.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-102

Information to be Provided in Lease

If applicable, each lease for an existing residential dwelling must contain a disclosure in 10-point bold type that states:
 
"This residential dwelling unit contains alternating current (AC) electric service. In the event of a power outage, an alternating current (AC) powered smoke detector will not provide an alarm. Therefore, the occupant should obtain a dual powered smoke detector or a battery powered smoke detector."  Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-104

Special Requirements for Newer Construction

For all new buildings with construction permits issued on or after January 1, 1989, there must be at least 1 smoke detector on each level including the basement, but excluding the attic.  If 2 or more smoke detectors are required, they must be installed in a way that activation of one causes activation of all of the other required detectors in the unit. For all new buildings with construction permits issued on or after July 1, 1990, all smoke detectors required by this law must be the kind that operate both by battery and on the unit’s regular source of power.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-103

Investigation After a Fire

Whenever a fire official investigates a fire in a 1, 2, or 3-family residential dwelling and finds that the required smoke detectors have not been installed, he will issue an order requiring the occupant to install detectors.  Failure to comply with this order within 15 days of re-occupancy of the dwelling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine not exceeding $50.00.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-108

Penalties

A person who is convicted of knowingly violating the laws or regulations regarding smoke detectors is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 days, or both. Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-109

Exceptions

The State Fire Marshal or the appropriate local authority may grant certain exceptions, including exceptions from state or local fire and building codes, if there is clear evidence that the exception will not adversely affect the fire safety of the building or its occupants.  However, no exception may be granted to a smoke detector requirement.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-205

Fire Safety for Mobility Impaired Individuals in High Rises

The owner of a residential high-rise building with rental units must annually provide a written notice to all residents to inform residents who are mobility impaired* of their right to request a rental unit on the first five floors of the building if one should become available.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-405

Sprinkler Systems

Alternative to Smoke Detectors

Where approved by the Fire Prevention Commission, an approved automatic sprinkler system may be installed in place of a smoke detection system.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-106

Required in New Construction

An automatic sprinkler system (approved by the State Fire Marshal or appropriate local authority) must be installed in accordance with prescribed national, local and state standards* in each newly-constructed dormitory, hotel, rooming house, and multi-family dwelling if the initial building permit was issued (or construction begins) after July 1, 1990, and in each newly constructed townhouse if the initial building permit was issued (or construction begins) after July 1, 1992.  This requirement does not apply to dwelling units that are not served by a public water supply system. Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-204

Exceptions

The State Fire Marshal or the appropriate local authority may grant certain exceptions, including exceptions from these sprinkler system requirements, if there is clear evidence that the exception will not adversely affect the fire safety of the building or its occupants.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-205

Penalties

Any person who knowingly violates these requirements is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to 10 days, or both.Read the Law: MD Code, Public Safety § 9-206

Source: 

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI)
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