Denike Calls For Tougher Sprinkler Law

August 21, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

TANEYTOWN — Councilman Thomas J. Denike has recommended that revisions to the city's sprinkler ordinance require the fire-prevention systems in all new single-family homes within five years.

Single-family homes are exempt under the existing ordinance, adopted earlier this year, although multifamily dwellings, such as town houses and duplexes, must have sprinklers.

Other City Council members want the ordinance to require sprinkler systems in renovated buildings when the renovation involves more than 50 percent of a structure.

These long-discussed recommendationshave prompted the council to push back, once again, consideration ofthe revised ordinance until its September meeting. The council was poised to act on the measure Monday.

The council postponed action on the ordinance last month after City Attorney Thomas F. Stansfield raised questions about its enforcement. The council has since addressed those concerns, and Stansfield will include the recommendations members made Monday night in a revised ordinance at the council's Sept. 9 meeting.

The council has been wrestling with the revisions for months following complaints from business people and residents that the original ordinance imposed undue burdens and would hamper downtown revitalization.

Council members, concerned to save lives and property, have frequently found themselves considering requests for relieffrom the ordinance requirements.

Under the proposed revisions, sprinkler systems would be required in all new commercial construction of single-story buildings larger than 8,500 square feet and in all multistory buildings larger than 10,500 square feet.

The existing ordinance requires sprinklers in all new commercial buildings, irrespective of size. All renovations, repairs and remodeling of existing commercial buildings must include sprinkler systems in the entire building.

Before making Monday's recommendations, the council had considered requiring sprinklers in renovations under certain conditions. The council had made no recommendations to include single-family homes.

However, Denike's recommendations would require all new single-family homes to install sprinkler systems at the time of construction.

Denike, who was appointed to the council earlier this year, has raised concerns about not requiring sprinklers in residential dwellingssince he began researching the issue. He reviewed state and county requirements for sprinklers systems and ordinances in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

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