Press Release – Cecil Countyl Firemen’s Association —–
Moments after beginning a new term, the Cecil County Board of Commissioners voted three to two to initiate a process that is the first step for rescinding an ordinance requiring sprinklers in all new single family dwellings. Last June, the county approved the building code requirement, the regulation becoming law on January 1st. But as the new board organized, Commissioner Robert Hodge asked officials to hold a public hearing that will allow them to vote on preventing enforcement of the requirement for six months, as he intends to amend the regulation in order to permit Cecil County to opt out of the Maryland Law.
Explaining that he wants sprinklers to be optional for new single family dwellings, Commissioners Hodge was joined by newly elected commissioners Tari Moore, and Michael Dunn in support of the first required step for reversing the county code. President Jim Mullin and Vice-President Diana Broomell, the presiding officers, voted against putting a hold on the regulation that had been approved with only one dissenting vote (Commissioner Hodge’s) in 2010.
The Cecil County Firemen’s Association applauded the efforts of the county’s political leaders in June when they adopted the Maryland code as it positively impacts life safety for citizens and firefighters, said Monica Penhollow, president of the association. “The association and the men and women of the fire service in Cecil County fully support the code requirement that was passed six months ago as we joined 11 other Maryland counties and 90 of the state’s 157 municipalities covered by the state’s residential sprinkler laws. The fire service knows that this technology significantly enhances safety for citizens and emergency service providers as it also lessens the public burden. Our county commissioners in adopting the state requirement joined community leaders in Charlestown, Elkton, North East, Perryville and Rising Sun in recognizing the value of these systems to the citizens they serve and to the safety of firefighters.”
The Cecil County Fire Service has seen enough fire deaths over the years. “Last year alone seven people died in house fires in the county, five of them children,” Penhollow noted. “But since Prince Georges passed legislation in 1992 mandating sprinklers in all new one and two family homes, no one has died in a fire in these dwelling.” At the meeting where the moratorium was proposed, President Jim Mullin agreed, saying “I voted for the sprinkler ordinance in June and there was a fatal fire in my district over the weekend so I haven’t changed my mind.” The Cecil Whig also agreed, writing in an editorial, “The potential for increased safety and lives outweighs the concerns of a mandatory sprinkler policy and we encourage the commissioners to let this ordinance take effect Jan. 1.”
The first step is a vote on a six month moratorium that stops county licensing and inspection professionals from enforcing the requirement. As this modifies laws that are on the books, the commissioners must hold a public hearing in order to get input before voting on the question. When the action was introduced by Commissioner Hodge, it was done at a workshop where the public or the fire service wasn’t allowed to offer remarks. The public hearing takes place on Jan 4th at 7:00 p.m. at the county administration building in Elkton.
The Cecil County Fire Service urges Commissioners Hodge, Moore and Dunn to not stand in the way of enforcement of this approved ordinance as it also seeks to once again educate the board on the importance of this public safety matter.