Smoke Detector Law Takes Effect

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office is spreading the word on a new state law effective July 1 that will enforce smoke detectors to be updated and placed on every floor of a residence by the year 2018.

House Bill 1413/Senate Bill 969, Public Safety-Fire Protection and Prevention Residential Smoke Alarms, has been passed and goes into effect on July 1.

The law requires homeowners to disclose whether the smoke detectors are over 10 years old and whether they use a 10-year sealed battery as required under Maryland law by 2018. The notice will be added to the current Seller Property Condition Disclosure Forms.

The legislation also requires homeowners to update smoke detectors to newer sealed battery systems if the smoke detectors are battery operated and are over 10 years old or malfunction when tested. Smoke detectors that are hard-wired are also required to be updated every 10 years or when those systems malfunction. Finally the legislation requires that at least one smoke detector be located on every floor of a residence by 2018.

According to Ocean City Deputy Fire Chief David Hartley, all new construction in Ocean City will already comply with the new code.

“Our biggest concern is existing single-family dwellings that were built prior to 1974 by State Law were allowed to use battery powered smoke detectors,” Hartley said. “I am sure in Ocean City we have quite a few smoke detectors that are 10 years or older.”

The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office with be taking on the new code by first spreading the word through public education and service announcements. They will be reaching out to hotels, motels and condominium associations.

The department is currently creating a formal plan in how to enforce the code. By the time the resort’s busy season comes to a close this summer, an enforcement plan should be put in place.

“The good thing is Ocean City has always been ahead of the curve on new construction and requirements of smoke detectors. All single-family and multi-family go through the permitting process with the building departments and all their codes meet or exceed what the State has just put out,” Hartley said.

In addition, the Ocean City Fire Department’s program where it distributes smoke alarms to those who can’t afford them or don’t have them will be updated and ready to go as of July 1.

“The State of Maryland Fire Marshal’s Office asked that we no longer pass out battery operated smoke detectors with nine-volt batteries anymore,” Hartley explained. “I am working with the president of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company to purchase the code compliant smoke detectors with the 10-year battery life, so we will still be able to do the hand-out program”

The smoke detector with a 10-year battery life is an advancement in technology to alleviate the problems of residents or tenants taking the batteries out when they have a nuisance alarm. The new smoke detectors have a hush mode. When it is accidently activated, the smoke detector doesn’t have to be pulled out of the wall or the battery doesn’t have to be removed, it can be put into hush mode and it will allow it to reset.

“We are still researching the code in making sure we understand it 100 percent before we roll something out but for the immediate compliance for our hand-outs we are going to be up to speed by July 1,” Hartley said.

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