Urging Cecil County to Not Reverse Code on Sprinklers, Fire Service Seeks to Educate Commissioners During Live Fire Demonstration

Press Release – Cecil County Firemen’s Association . . .

North East, MD. April 3, 2011: — The Board of Commissioners are preparing for a final vote on amending the residential sprinkler ordinance. To aid them in making a fact-based decision, the Cecil County Firemen’s Association (CCFA) plans an educational presentation that shows the value of the automatic fire suppression system during a live fire demonstration at the county office building on Tuesday, April 5th, at 5:00 p.m. Using two identical rooms, except one is equipped with a sprinkler, observers will be able to personally evaluate the dramatic difference between fires in sprinklered and unsprinklered homes.

Our goal is to educate the commissioners so they can make an informed decision on this important life safety feature when they vote on the amended ordinance, Monica Penhollow, President of the association, said. In identically furnished typical household rooms, people will be able to see how in minutes a small fire turns into a life-threatening blaze and how the sprinkler comes into action to douse the blaze with a small quantity of water.

“This is the last interaction the CCFA will have before the commissioners make their final vote. We have worked for weeks putting this demonstration together and I am confident we have done our job to provide the education the commissioners need to make a sound decision. The association and the fire service urge the commissioners to approve the sprinkler ordinance,” Penhollow continued.

CMP Fire from Elkton MD, is assisting the CCFA with the demonstration. They have constructed two rooms with identical furnishings. Fire engines from North East, Rising Sun and Elkton will be on hand for suppression and support. Singerly’s David Meaders is the incident commander, Ray Stevens of Chesapeake City is the safety officer. The Public Information Officer for the Maryland State Fire Marshalls Office will narrate the activity.

The Association applauded the efforts of the county’s elected leaders in June 2010 when they adopted the Maryland code but was disappointed when moments after beginning a new term in January they voted three to two to initiate the process that would rescind an ordinance requiring sprinklers in all new single family dwellings. “The association and the Cecil County Fire Service fully support the code requirement that was passed 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 President added.

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. 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.

The Cecil County Fire Service urges the Commissioners to not stand in the way of enforcement of this ordinance as it also seeks to once again educate the board on the importance of this public safety matter. The Cecil Whig also urged the commissioners to let the ordinance take effect as “the potential for increased safety . . . outweighs the concerns of a mandatory sprinkler policy.”

Source: MD. State Fire Marshal's Office.Shows Cecil as having adopted ordinance, but the commissioners are reconsidering their position on the safety requirement.


6 responses to “Urging Cecil County to Not Reverse Code on Sprinklers, Fire Service Seeks to Educate Commissioners During Live Fire Demonstration

  1. We appreciate the demonstration, as it will educate people and help them to make a better choice for themselves when they purchase a home or for a home that they already have. It’s always better to use education and facts to motivate the public to do something by choice, rather than by force.

  2. While sprinklers will definately reduce properity damage as the demo will show, smoke detectors will alert people to situations where fire has not yet erupted. Americns are losing their right to choose; to choose the limits of government’s intrusion into their lives.

    How safe do we need to be and at what cost? That is a choice each citizen should make independent of government’s heavy hand.

  3. Valerie Falcioni

    There was never a question about the increased safety that sprinklers bring to fight a fire. I definitely see the value of sprinklers in multi-dwelling housing. The question is, as far as single family homes go, are sprinklers any safer than the use of fire alarms alone? Are they really worth the greatly increased cost, especially given our perilous economic situation? Common sense tells me that this ordinance will not stop with new construction, but will also force those of us who live in pre-existing homes to install a system. Common sense also tells me that the more complicated the device, the easier it is to break. I think the real issue is one of power; the individual’s right to choose or the government’s mandate to require us.

  4. Stephen England

    While I appreciate the fire service taking of their time in this manner, they still seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that this debate is over the legalization of sprinkler systems in the county. That is not the case. Sprinkler systems are perfectly legal for anyone who wishes to install one in their home, and it’s a very good idea.
    What is a bad idea is the government overreach of power which would mandate them for all homes, including single-family residences.

  5. F Gaylord Moody III

    I hope the commissioners vote to include mandatory sprinklers in the new building code. The proposals of exceptions and signed waivers create a confusing blizzard of paperwork, and ultimately, I think that confusion will defeat any rational benefits. At the public hearing regarding the sprinkler issue, I heard one comment that seemed to have been lost in the hubbub, namely, the many choices of lesser-cost materials have created structures built of glues, composites and plastics which burn hotter and faster than the lumber and plaster of yesteryear. Sprinklers are being included in the building code to moderate the temperature and rate of the burn. The progressively more flamable but lower cost materials will be offset by a new technology with the intention of allowing inhabitants to escape an inferno. I do not like loss of choice, but lets not throw out the expertise of tremendous research leading to enhanced building codes. I deeply regret that first responders seem to promote a cult of the hero, and some of them are obnoxious by suggesting people who disagree with them have a callous disregard for life. Firefighter uniforms and the number of lives lost do not enter into a debate regarding how fast and how hot a fire burns today compared to yesterday. People who suggested that sprinkler technicians need to prove their product were also off track. Utimately, it is not about personal choice, but whether we can trust a building code to properly address issues of public safety.

  6. I am sure we all agree that without our brave and valiant firefighters the quality of our lives would be diminshed. We are able to sleep safely due to their selfless sacrifices. We truly owe them a debt of grratitude for their service. That being said, they have chosen to pursue this vocation. They have great expertise in the area of firefighting, but not so in the area of government and politics.
    I have followed this issue closely and appreciate both sides of the argument. If, in fact, the purpose of this proposed legislation is public safety and not government intrusion, there is one question I have not heard. How many of these very brave, dedicated, public servants have fire sprinklers installed in their homes? Surely, if they are as necessary as has been suggested, and the cost is not the issue, then a vast majority of these citizens will have had them installed in their homes. If this is not the case, then what does that say about their argument regarding mandatory fire sprinklers?

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