Smoke detector regulations are comprehensive

FOR RENTERS

May 08, 1994|By George B. Laurent

Smoke is deadly. More people die from a fire's smoke than from the fire itself.

Maryland requires that each sleeping area in an apartment be provided with at least one approved smoke detector installed in a manner and location approved by the Maryland Fire Prevention Commission.

Dwellings built after Jan. 1, 1989, must have at least one smoke detector on each level, including the basement but not the attic. Dwellings built after July 1, 1990, must have smoke detectors that operate off the electrical system but with a battery as backup.

In a one-, two- or three-family homes built before July 1, 1975, the tenant of each unit must provide and maintain at least one approved primary smoke detector.

In all other rental units, the landlord is responsible for installing the smoke detector, and upon notice in person or upon written notice by certified mail from the tenant, the landlord is responsible for repair or replacement of the detector. If the tenant personally notifies the landlord of a mechanical failure, the landlord must acknowledge this by written receipt. The tenant may not remove a smoke detector or make it inoperative.

A deaf or hearing-impaired tenant may make a written request to a landlord for a smoke detector that can emit a light signal sufficient to warn the deaf or hearing-impaired person. The landlord must comply.

Every manufacturer whose smoke detectors are sold in Maryland must get product approval from the state fire marshal.

Where approved by the Fire Prevention Commission, an approved automatic sprinkler system may be installed in place of a smoke detector system.

For additional information on smoke detectors and fire safety, call the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 764-4324 or (800) 525-3124.

George B. Laurent is executive director of BNI, or Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., a private nonprofit group that works to resolve tenant-landlord problems and to eliminate housing discrimination.

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