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Fire Codes and Regulations

The Baltimore County Fire Department's (BCoFD) Fire Marshal's Office enforces the Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code, which closely parallels the Maryland Fire Prevention Code but is tailored to the needs of the County. Enforcement of the Fire Code is essential to BCoFD's ability to prevent fires and protect lives and property.

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

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke alarms are required in the sleeping areas of most residential occupancies. The Fire Code requires smoke alarms in many other uses, including hotels and motels, family day care homes, and day care centers.

As of January 1, 2018, Maryland Law requires all Maryland residents to have 10-year smoke alarms with sealed batteries and a "hush" feature (to silence the alarm temporarily during cooking) on every level of the home. See our smoke alarm information page for more detailed information about legal requirements involving smoke alarms in Maryland.

Laws involving carbon monoxide alarms are enforced by the Office of the Fire Marshal and the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.

Occupancy Regulations

National Fire Protection Association standards determine the maximum number of occupants permitted at places of public assembly. BCoFD's Fire Marshal considers enforcement of occupancy limits a vital fire prevention step; some of the nation's worst fire disasters involve overcrowded clubs or bars.

Baltimore County Fire Code (Chapter 20) requires crowd manager training for establishments with an occupancy load of at least 50 people.

Other Important Fire Prevention Regulations 

Grills, Fire Pits and Chimineas
All types of grills—gas- and propane-fueled, charcoal, electric, and hibachi—are prohibited on balconies or within 15 feet of multi-family dwellings. The same prohibitions apply to chimineas and fire pits.

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

Open Burning
Bonfires and agricultural burning in the County require a permit from the Fire Marshal's Office. Open burning, including agricultural burning, is illegal inside the perimeter of the Beltway.

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.

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

Christmas Trees and Candles Inside 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.

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 the manufacturer's installation instructions. A permit is required from the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.

 
Revised July 10, 2019         

 

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