New Bill Would Require Fire Extinguishers in All High-Rise Buildings Without Sprinklers

A new bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates would require fire extinguishers in high-rise buildings without sprinkler systems installed.

The bill, known as the Melanie Diaz Sprinklers Save Lives Act, was introduced by Delegates Lorig Charkoudian, Marvin Holmes, David Moon, Emily Shetty, Jared Solomon, and Jheanelle Wilkins after the fire at the Arrive Silver Spring apartment complex claimed the life of Melanie Diaz and displaced hundreds of residents.

The Melanie Diaz Sprinklers Save Lives Act would require “the installation of smoke alarms in public corridors accessible by units in high-rise buildings; prohibiting a landlord from requiring a deaf or hard-of-hearing tenant to pay for the cost of a notification appliance or to provide supporting documentation with a written request for a notification appliance; prohibiting a landlord from requiring a tenant to reimburse the landlord for the cost of installing certain smoke alarms; requiring certain high-rise buildings to have automatic sprinkler systems by January 1, 2033.”

As reported by WTOP on Tuesday, the three-alarm fire at the Arrive Silver Spring high-rise was ruled accidental, but Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein told the County Council this week that it is unlikely that the department will be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the blaze. During Tuesday’s meeting of the County Council, Goldstein indicated that electronic devices and candles were “present” in the apartment, but did not provide any specific information regarding how the fire began.

Silver Spring Cares and the Montgomery Housing Partnership have launched fundraising campaigns to assist those displaced by the fire.

Goldstein told council members that it has been a difficult year when it comes to the severity of fires. “In a three-week period of time, there were five fire fatalities and four fires in Montgomery County,” Goldstein said.

The fire at the Arrive Silver Spring complex last month shed new light on current Maryland law, which gives a 2033 deadline for buildings to have sprinklers installed.

Over the past weekend, firefighters visited all 76 buildings in the county that do not have sprinklers installed, spreading essential safety tips to prevent fires. “The chief wanted us to go revisit, refocus on those high-rise buildings in Montgomery County that are non-sprinkler, just to ensure that the residents have information,” fire department spokesperson Pete Piringer said of the “all hands on deck” effort.

Future fire prevention education efforts are planned for a variety of settings, including community centers, multicultural centers, and more.

Photo: Pete Piringer / Twitter

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