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2/19/2016

Update on Maryland Sprinkler Systems
Original CommentRecently, House Bill 19 was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly by Delegate Christopher Adams and others. Contrary to some of the comments received about this bill, it DOES NOT repeal the requirement to install sprinkler systems in single family homes. In the past, counties had the option of opting out of this requirement, and several did. Unfortunately, the State Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) took the position that the county exemption did not apply to the statewide modular administrative program, meaning the industry was forced to include the systems despite what the county or customer wanted. The counties had a three-year window to opt out before they were required to comply. That window has now closed and as of today ALL homes built in the state are required to have sprinkler systems installed. The bill introduced by Delegate Adams simply repeals the language that currently prohibits the counties from opting out, giving them the option to do so again. If passed as written, the modular industry will be facing the exact same discrimination and disadvantage as it did for the prior three years. Modular Homes Builders Association  expressed these concerns to Delegate Adams, and Modular Homes Builders Association Director Tom Hardiman had a lengthy conversation with the Delegate about the industry positon. It was clear that he was not trying to harm the industry, as he really did not understand it. He was simply trying to bring more power and control back to the local level. Modular Homes Builders Association stated to the Delegate that Modular Homes Builders Association opposes the bill as written and had three options 1) Lobby for an outright repeal of the sprinkler system requirement state wide. This is a much larger and more contentious issue and pits the industry directly against the State Fire Marshal, firefighters, and other “safety” advocates. 2) Lobby to kill this bill. This is a much easier strategy and will ensure that everyone must continue to install sprinkler systems. While not ideal, it at least ensures a level playing field. 3) Add language to the bill to ensure that any exemptions for counties are fairly applied across all types of home construction by adding the words “including modular homes.” This will likely trigger the DHCD to work with Modular Homes Builders Association to modify the regulations to ensure a level playing field. Modular Homes Builders Association plans to continue working with Delegate Adams to get language included in this bill in case it does pass. However, there is no companion bill running concurrently in the Senate, a sign that the bill will have a difficult chance of passage. We also will not be upset if the bill fails to pass, as again, we will at least be on equal footing with stick builders. Lastly, we plan to approach DHCD again and request a top to bottom review of the entire program after the legislative sessions ends.
Started on February 19, 2016 by Tom HardimanSource: Modular Home Builders Association 

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