Council Agrees To Cut Redundant Fire Protection Standards

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials last week repealed some sections of the town’s fire protection code that could save homeowners thousands of dollars by reducing a few minimum standards deemed to be redundant.

Ocean City Fire Marshal David Hartley last Tuesday presented to the Mayor and Council a handful of sections in the town’s existing fire protection code that have been determined to be redundant in new construction with technological advances. For example, heat detectors and hallway pressurization are currently required in the Ocean City fire code in all structures exceeding 50 feet.

Heat detectors and hallway pressurization are required in minimum national standards for fire protection, but they have been determined to be redundant, unnecessary and even ineffective in many cases for a variety of reasons. For example, Hartley explained with advances in sprinkler systems and smoke detectors in individual units, the heat detectors and hallway pressurization have become redundant in new construction and only add to the cost of construction unnecessarily.

“In our opinion, both of these requirements can be deleted in new construction and still meet minimum national fire and life safety standards,” he said. “The required heat detectors are unnecessary in that they are redundant to smoke detectors and quick response fire sprinklers within each unit and in notifying the occupants of an emergency.”

Hartley said repealing the sections of the code related to heat detectors and hallway pressurization would greatly reduce the cost of new construction for structures over 50 feet in height. For existing structures, the old systems could be removed after an inspection by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

“For new construction, it will be a cost-savings for the builders and owners,” he said. “We’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars with some of these requirements and we feel they are redundant.”

With that said, Council Secretary Mary Knight made a motion to repeal the identified sections of the fire code deemed to be redundant.

“It’s always nice when staff brings us something where we can repeal some rules and regulations that affect the homeowners and save them money,” she said.

Councilman Wayne Hartman praised Hartley and his staff for recommending the changes to the code.

“I’d like to commend you for recognizing these redundancies,” he said. “There are things in the code that add to the cost and as technology has changed, we can go back in and repeal some of these things and I think it’s great when we can move forward with that. I know how thorough you are and respect your opinion.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.