Maryland Fire Marshal

Maryland, one of two states that require residential fire sprinklers, reports record-low fire deaths in 2020

The Office of the State Fire Marshal of Maryland released preliminary data from 2020 which showed 51 people died due to injuries sustained in fires last year, a record-low for the state.

The previous low was 54 in 2012, and last year’s statistic represents a 22 percent decrease from the 65 deaths in 2019.

“Residential sprinklers are in place here in Maryland; they aren’t going anywhere,” State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said to The Garrett County Republican. “We’re saving lives, and they’re clearly making a difference.”

Maryland requires a residential fire sprinkler in all new one- or two-family homes across the state. Despite the provision for sprinklers included in all building codes, Maryland and California are the only two states in the US that require residential fire sprinklers, along with Washington, DC and hundreds of local communities. The Maryland law was passed in 2012, and was recently strengthened by the passing of House Bill 823 and Senate Bill 746, which gave the Fire Marshal the ability to enforce the requirements.

Maryland law also prohibits local governments from weakening the sprinkler requirement in their jurisdiction’s building codes.

According to reports, another key factor in the decrease of the state’s fire deaths is a 2013 law that required replacing 10-year-old battery-only smoke alarms with alarms powered by a 10-year sealed battery. Most people are unaware that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. By using long life battery smoke alarms, you greatly reduce missing or dead battery issues.

Over the last 25 years, the average annual fire death total in the state was 71. Over the last 10 years, it has dropped to 64.

Out of the 51 total fire deaths, 33 occurred in residential properties, a significant decrease from the 52 residential deaths in 2019. This is very good news for the state and another reminder of the life-saving capabilities of residential fire sprinklers and the positive impact they have for citizens and first responders.

To learn more about home fire sprinklers and how to get them in your community, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

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Mike Puzzanghera
Mike Puzzanghera
Public Affairs Intern

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