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Fighting the Good Fight - Promoting Residential Sprinklers

In case any of you have missed my preaching on the benefits to the fire service of Modern Fire Attack (MFA) knowledge and methods over the past few weeks, my excuse is that my writing efforts have instead lately been directed toward fire safety in my own community.

The State of Maryland adopted the International Residential Code (IRC), which has a requirement for residential sprinklers in all newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings, some years ago (multifamily dwellings and townhouses had already been covered), but had allowed individual jurisdictions to "opt out" of the sprinkler mandate.  My home county, Wicomico, voted to do just that, bending to the influence of the building and real estate industry, and contrary to the warnings from those of us in the fire service.  

Thankfully, effective July 1, 2015, local jurisdictions in Maryland lost the ability to exempt themselves from the State mandate to install this fire safety feature.  Predictably, sprinkler opponents are taking another tact: attempting to make changes at the State legislative level to again allow this requirement to be ignored.  Several stories in our local newspaper aired the complaints and concerns of homebuilders, and the newspaper even published an editorial describing residential sprinklers as a burdensome, if "well-meaning", requirement.  

In response, I penned the "opinion" piece above in order to provide a fire safety, and firefighting, perspective on the issue.  (I was limited to just 600 words, which is why I did not touch on every aspect of sprinkler benefits, but, since you all know how I can carry on about things, that was probably a wise choice on the newspaper's part.)  The topic was important enough to me that I devoted my time to obtaining a venue through which to provide this message, then crafted something that I hoped would have the proper impact.  Thus far, response has been favorable, though we have a long way to go. Maryland has just a 90-day legislative session, which begins in January, and a bill allowing the residential sprinkler exemption has already been filed by a local State legislator.  Let the political battles begin (Ugh)!

Anyway, I'll be back with my rants on MFA topics next week.

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