Caroline County Looks for Exemption in Sprinkler Mandate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Caroline County Looks for Exemption in Sprinkler Mandate

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DENTON, Md.-  It's something so small, you probably don't even think much about it, or even notice it.  But the debate over fire sprinklers is a large one, one that has been discussed for three years now. Larry Porter, president of the Caroline County Commissioners, said that in the past, the county opted out of the state's requirement.  Now that it's mandatory, it's putting a strain on new home construction.

"It's our opinion that it will severely restrain the building of new houses, because in Caroline County, if you're going to be building a new home, you're going to be doing it on a well," Porter said.

All of the properties in the town of Denton are required to have a sprinkler system, and it's been that way for years. Porter's concern is that it's significantly cheaper to do that in a place like Denton where there is an existing water infrastructure.  It's a whole other discussion when you're out in the countryside working off of well water.

"I can tell you that building it on a well requires alterations to an existing well or alterations to a new well.  It also involves holding tanks, pumps," he said. 

A sprinkler system also requires a generator to keep the system working in a power outage.  But the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office and local fire officials say sprinklers are a crucial safety device.

"It gives time for people to get out, to get out of the house, it's helped to damp down the fire, and then we go from there," said Ridgely Fire Chief Lou Hayes.

The state fire marshal's office said sprinklers have been proven to be highly effective at saving lives.  They say in Prince George's County, there have been 101 deaths in homes with no sprinklers in the past 15 years, but zero in homes with sprinklers.

The county commissioners plan to meet with the Eastern Shore delegation next week to discuss options to get an exemption. However, Caroline County fire companies are not in support of the move.

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