Maryland Fire Safety Study Looks at Residential High Rises

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A work group of the Maryland State Fire Prevention Commission has been meeting monthly since February to review the adequacy of the State Fire Code for high rise residential buildings.  Under the Code, a high rise building is a building where the floor of an occupiable story is greater than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.  AOBA has been a participant in the meetings.

The work group was appointed due to concerns regarding the adequacy of fire safety in the approximately 100 residential high rises built prior to 1974, when sprinklers were required for new construction.  While the State Fire Marshal had advocated a mandate to retrofit these buildings with sprinklers, the work group has taken a broader look at building attributes that can lead to safety hazards, including adequacy of egress, exterior siding, communication systems, corridor smoke detectors, and older elevators that lack fire department recall features.

At this point the work group appears focused on identifying those building features in older high rises that could reasonably be addressed that would return the greatest improvement in fire safety.  As part of their analysis they reviewed a Life Safety Evaluation for high rise buildings, used by the City of Chicago for the past decade, that requires a minimum score for safety features in the building. 

AOBA will continue active involvement in the work group’s activities. Questions? Contact Ron Wineholt,
rwineholt@aoba-metro.org