Bill would force landlords to install smoke detectors

March 18, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

In the wake of Baltimore's deadliest house fire in three years, the City Council is trying anew to force landlords to install smoke detectors in virtually all rental units.

Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, who represents West Baltimore, introduced a bill last night that would require smoke detectors in the bedrooms of rental dwellings with one, two or three apartments.

Dixon said she wants to make sure more dwellings have smoke detectors after six children died in a fast-moving blaze in their rowhouse shortly after midnight March 3. Firefighters did not find a smoke detector in the house. Current law makes it the tenant's responsibility to install detectors.

"The property owner has a lot to invest, and it might help curb some of the fires," Dixon said.

In 1994, after seven children and two adults died in a house fire, a similar measure was defeated. At that time, landlords argued that they could not be responsible for making sure smoke detectors worked and said tenants would take them when they moved.

The new measure would affect an estimated 55,000 units in the city.

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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