Worcester County Seeks Opinion On Sprinkler Mandate

Worcester County Seeks Opinion On Sprinkler Mandate
Worcester County Commission President Joe Mitrecic is seeking clarity on the state's sprinkler requirement for newly manufactured homes. FIle Photo

OCEAN CITY — Worcester County officials last month fired off a letter to the state Attorney General’s Office seeking an opinion on the mandates for fire sprinkler systems in new manufactured homes.

For the last few years, fire sprinkler systems have been required in new stick-built or modular homes in Worcester, but it has remained uncertain if the sprinkler mandates apply to manufactured homes in the county and across the state. Last month, Worcester County Commission President Joe Mitrecic sent a letter to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh seeking clarification on the issue.

“On behalf of the County Commissioners of Worcester County, I write to seek the opinion of the Maryland Attorney General on the following question: Does Maryland law require the installation of fire sprinkler systems in manufactured homes that are constructed in accordance with the standards set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” the letter reads.

In the letter, Mitrecic provided background on the existing state and federal codes regarding fire sprinkler requirements.

“Maryland’s law related to building codes is called the Maryland Building Performance Standards,” the letter reads. “Generally, the Maryland Standards apply to all buildings for which a building permit application is received by a local jurisdiction. A building permit application is required for a manufactured home in Worcester County. The code requires fire sprinkler systems to be installed in all new one- and two-family dwellings.”

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In the letter, Mitrecic points out state and local jurisdictions can apply fire sprinkler system requirements. The letter seeks an opinion as to whether the state’s codes for sprinkler systems in manufactured homes are consistent with the established federal standards.

“Federal law indicates that states can assert jurisdiction over any manufactured home safety issue if no federal standard has been established,” the letter reads. “According to HUD’s website state-mandated fire sprinkler system requirements are not pre-empted by the HUD standards.”

Mitrecic’s letter continued, “Worcester County enforces the Maryland Standards with respect to fire sprinkler systems in new single-family dwellings,” the letter reads. “There are no additional standards imposed by local law enforcement. In conclusion, it appears Worcester County is required to enforce mandated fire sprinkler requirements for new manufactured homes. However, this analysis is inconsistent with the guidance issued by the Office of the State Fire Marshal in May 2021.”

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.