Hoping to start a trend in other jurisdictions, Mount Airy and Carroll County officials unveiled a model home yesterday that features a new requirement of single-family houses in the town: automatic sprinkler systems.
Officials said sprinklers will not only saves lives but also ease the demand on the county's all-volunteer firefighters.
"Once you look past the safety issues, you've got to look at the strain on emergency services," said John P. Medve, president of the Mount Airy Town Council.
As developments like those in Mount Airy become popular, pre-emptive safety measures become more important, said W. Faron Taylor, a deputy state fire marshal.
"Other than the rolling hillside, there are dozens and dozens of communities that share the nature of Mount Airy," Taylor said. "It's very important jurisdictions realize they share a lot of the same growth, fire-protection and life-safety issues."
Firefighters and the state fire marshal said that fire deaths occur most often in single-family dwellings - most starting in living rooms or dens. Last year, 75 lives were lost statewide in fires, Taylor said.
Mount Airy is the smallest jurisdiction in Maryland to require indoor sprinkler systems in new single-family detached homes, Taylor said. The town passed the ordinance in January last year. Yesterday, officials showed off the first development where the legislation applies.
Still months from completion, the two-story, four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot model home in the Sterling Glen subdivision - a mile from Mount Airy's Main Street and parallel to Route 27 - has been outfitted with 57 sprinklers.
"There is no better one-two punch than this to protect life and property," said Scott Campbell, acting director of the Carroll County Office of Public Safety and Support Services. "Smoke detectors in combination with automatic sprinklers is the best level of life safety you can offer at this time."