MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
“Laws We Can Live With”
Occupants of a Springdale home are safe and their home sustaining minimal fire damage today thanks to laws enacted by County leaders in the 1980’s and 90’s. At about 1:45 am, 3 occupants were awakened by the piercing warning signal emitted by an activated smoke alarm. Once alerted they smelled and saw smoke and exited the house to call 911. A fire of an undetermined cause was burning in the basement. The smoke caused the smoke alarm to activate and heat from the fire caused the residential sprinkler system to start flowing water in the area of high heat.
Firefighters from the nearby St. Josephs Fire/EMS Station 806 arrived quickly at the 2-story, 3156 sq. ft., single-family home built in 1998, in the 10200 block of Thundercloud Court. Firefighters located the fire and ensured complete extinguishment. The area on fire had been held in check by the sprinklers. Fire loss damage was minimized to $1,000 thanks to the residential sprinklers. The County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross assisted the occupants and their pet with temporary shelter. Displacement will be for days instead of months or years. Another benefit of early awareness of a fire is that there were no injuries to civilians and firefighters.
In 1982, the fire department requested legislation to require a working smoke alarm in existing homes and in all new construction. This law was passed by the County Council and became law in 1982.
In late 1980’s, County fire service leaders saw the need for residential sprinklers to be installed in all new construction. Again, legislation was dratted and received approval from the County Council requiring a phased-in approach to residential sprinklers installation in all new construction built after January 1992. We were the first County in the Nation to have this type of legislation at that time.
The enactment of these two laws have saved countless lives and limited fire loss to homes equipped with residential sprinklers. There has never been a fatality in a single family home equipped with a residential sprinkler system since this law was enacted. Prince George’s County residents and businesses are still reaping the benefits of these laws as was evidenced in this mornings Springdale home fire.
A more recent County legislation requires the installation of a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of your home. This law includes all existing residences that have a gas service for cooking, heating and other gas appliances, a fireplace and/or an attached garage. This law went into effect on July 1, 2014.
Starting January 1, 2015 a Maryland State Law requires a phase-in approach to all homes currently protected by a 9-volt battery powered smoke alarm. The older alarms have served us well for a long time, however, residents will need to upgrade and install 10-year lithium powered smoke alarms that are tamper proof (can not remove battery) and have a hush feature to silence accidental activations. The law requires a new alarm on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. The 10-year smoke alarms will help to reduce the high number of fire fatalities from occurring in homes with no alarms or an alarm with dead or missing batteries.
The introduction of 10-year smoke alarm is the greatest innovation to these life saving devices since the invention of smoke alarms themselves.
Residential sprinklers, 10-year smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are all laws we can live with.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department highly recommends the use of a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm where they are appropriate. Alarms can be purchased at home improvement and hardware stores.