Policy Alert: ‘Fire Watch’ Measures in Maryland Bad for CMs

The Baltimore City Fire Department recently placed an SBCA member on their 'Fire Watch' program. The Fire Department informed the company they would either have to install a sprinkler system or cease using the building. The SBCA member pointed out they had been using the facility for 28 years without ever having a fire, and annual fire inspection had never raised any significant issues.  For the 8,000 square foot facility, the member estimates the cost of a sprinkler system would be close to $85,000. This additional cost presents a significant challenge to the continued success of their business.

Currently, it is unclear what is prompting the Baltimore City Fire Department to push the ‘Fire Watch’ program.  There is no mention of this initiative on the City of Baltimore website or the State of Maryland website. The only information we could glean was from what appears to be a cottage industry devoted to helping companies comply with the mandate.

We will continue to monitor this issue as it may impact any company in Maryland that is storing lumber indoors. If any of our readers has information about this issue, please let us know. In addition, if any SBCA member has local fire service, building official or legislative contacts in Maryland that SBCA staff could reach out to, please let us know and we’ll initiate these conversations.

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