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Fire Codes and Regulations

The Baltimore County Fire Marshal enforces the Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code, which closely parallels the Maryland Fire Prevention Code but is tailored to the needs of Baltimore County.

Local codes may be more stringent that the Maryland Fire Prevention Code; they cannot be less restrictive than the state code. Both the local and state fire codes are amendments to the National Fire Protection Association codes.

Fire Prevention Laws That Affect You

Address Display Law
Specifies how address numbers and letters for residential and commercial properties must be displayed.

Fire Protection Systems
Governs Fire Department connections to automatic sprinklers and standpipe connections; requires sprinklers in high-rise buildings; requires licensing of private fire extinguisher inspectors. 

Fire Lanes, Hydrants and Rural Water Supply
Sets standards for access roads and fire lanes, hydrants and rural water supplies for firefighting operations.

Fire Sprinkler Contractor License Application (PDF)
The state Fire Code regulates the licensing of private fire sprinkler contractors.

Fireworks and Ground-Based Sparkling Devices
Aerial fireworks are prohibited in Maryland unless part of a public display licensed by the state Fire Marshal. Some hand-held and ground-based sparkling devices are allowed in Baltimore County. Safety precautions are essential when handling sparklers of any type.

Christmas Trees and Candles Within Buildings
State and local laws establish safety standards for the display and sale of fresh-cut and live trees in non-residential buildings. Local law restricts burning candles in public occupancies.

Barbeque Grills and Other Heating Devices
Propane and charcoal grills and other open-flame heating devices—including chimineas—are prohibited on balconies or within 15 feet of multi-family dwellings.

Haunted House Requirements
Fire codes require non-combustible, fire-retardant decorations, an adequate number of exits and other safety precautions for haunted houses.

Kerosene Heaters
Local law prohibits the use of kerosene heaters in multi-family dwellings. Fire codes regulate the use of these heaters in commercial establishments. Safety tips for using portable heaters are available online.

Occupancy Laws
National Fire Protection Association standards determine the maximum number of occupants permitted at places of public assembly. Baltimore County Fire Code (Chapter 20) requires Crowd Manager training for establishments with an occupancy load of at least 50 people.

Open Burning
Bonfires and agricultural burning in Baltimore County require a permit. Open burning, including agricultural burning, is illegal inside the perimeter of the Beltway.  Burning permits can be obtained by contacting the Fire Marshal's office at 410-887-4880.

Smoke Alarms
Most residential occupancies require smoke alarms in sleeping areas. The code requires smoke alarms in many other uses, including hotels and motels, family day care homes and day care centers.

Fire Alarm Systems
Installation of fire alarm systems must comply with state and local fire codes; they require permits from the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.

Sprinkler Systems
Installation of sprinkler systems must comply with state and local fire codes and manufacturer's installation instructions. A permit is required from the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.

Revised May 17, 2016         


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