Worcester County, MD
 
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
(a) 
Name. The rules and regulations hereby adopted shall constitute and shall hereafter be known as the "Fire Prevention Code of Worcester County" and may be cited and is hereinafter referred to as the "Fire Prevention Code."
(b) 
Purpose. The purpose of this Fire Prevention Code is to establish standards and to make provisions and requirements for the maintenance, operation and use of land, buildings and other structures and the storage, handling, transportation and use of materials and equipment to prevent fires; to require all means of egress from premises, buildings and other structures to be maintained and operated in a safe manner; and to provide for the investigation of the cause, origin and circumstances of fires, all for the purpose of protecting the public health, safety and security of the people of Worcester County. This Fire Prevention Code is hereby declared to be remedial and shall be liberally construed to secure the beneficial purposes intended hereby.
(a) 
General. Whenever the maintenance, operation or use of any land, building, structure, material or other object or any part thereof constitutes a fire hazard which is dangerous or unsafe or a menace to either the public health, safety or security and the action to be taken to eliminate such dangerous or unsafe condition or conditions which creates or tends to create the same is not specifically provided for in this Fire Prevention Code, the Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to take such action as may be necessary to eliminate such dangerous or unsafe condition or conditions in accordance with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(b) 
Enforcement by Fire Marshal.
(1) 
The Fire Marshal is hereby authorized, empowered and charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code in the form and manner herein prescribed.
(2) 
The Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to institute or cause to be instituted any and all legal or equitable actions or proceedings of every kind and character which may be necessary and proper to enforce any and all provisions of the Fire Prevention Code.
(3) 
In any case where an emergency, as contemplated by this Fire Prevention Code, does not exist and any person fails in any respect to fully comply with any and all provisions of any notice, decision or order issued or made by the Fire Marshal, the Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to do or perform or have done or performed any and all work or operations and to take any other action which may be necessary to eliminate or make safe and secure any and all conditions of every kind and character which are in violation of the terms and provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(4) 
Nothing contained in this Fire Prevention Code shall be taken or construed to stop or prevent the Fire Marshal from instituting or causing to be instituted or fully prosecuting any and all legal or equitable actions or proceedings of every kind or character which may be necessary or proper to compel full compliance with any and all of the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code even though criminal proceedings of any kind or character may be pending or may have been completed.
(c) 
Right of entry. The Fire Marshal or his authorized representatives, when in uniform or upon exhibiting the proper credentials, shall have the right to enter any building, structure or premises, except private residences, at any time during business or operating hours, or at such other times as may be necessary in an emergency resulting from or arising out of any causes that endanger or tend to endanger the public health or safety, for the purpose of performing his duties under this Fire Prevention Code or enforcing the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(d) 
Duty to make inspections and tests. The Fire Marshal shall make any and all inspections and tests or cause any and all inspections and tests to be made as required by the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(e) 
Authority to issue orders and notices. The Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to issue such orders and notices as may be necessary and proper to carry out the intent and purpose of this Fire Prevention Code.
(f) 
Duty to keep records and make reports. The Fire Marshal shall keep any and all and make any and all reports that may be necessary for the proper administration of this Fire Prevention Code.
(g) 
Deputies. The County Commissioners of Worcester County are hereby authorized and empowered to appoint such deputies as, in their judgment, may be necessary to make any and all of the examinations and inspections which are required to be made or which may be made in accordance with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code, which deputies shall report, in writing, the results of their examinations or inspections so made to said Fire Marshal. For the purpose of making such examinations or inspections, such deputies as may be so appointed are hereby fully authorized and clothed with the same power and authority to enter upon or into and examine or inspect any premises, buildings or structures within the limits of Worcester County as is given to said Fire Marshal and his authorized representatives by this Fire Prevention Code.
(h) 
Fire Prevention Committee of Worcester County.
(1) 
The Fire Prevention Committee shall be appointed by the County Commissioners and shall consist of the Chief of each fire company chartered by the County Commissioners pursuant to this Title of the Public Safety Article of the Code of Public Local Laws of Worcester County, Maryland.
(2) 
The Fire Prevention Committee shall meet with the Fire Marshal at least quarterly. The Committee shall advise the Fire Marshal. The Committee shall make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners for Worcester County for amendments, revisions and additions to the Fire Prevention Code of the county.
(a) 
Scope of inspections and tests. Inspections and tests shall include any and all inspections, examinations, tests and investigations of the use, maintenance and operation of any and all land, buildings or other structures, or any and all parts thereof, or of any and all materials, types or kinds of methods of construction, electrical work, machinery, appliances, accessories or equipment therein or thereon, as well as any matter or thing pertaining or relating to any of the foregoing to determine if any or all of the aforesaid conform to the requirements of this Fire Prevention Code.
(b) 
Routine inspections by the Fire Marshal. The Fire Marshal or his duly authorized deputies shall make any and all routine inspections necessary to properly enforce the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(c) 
Periodic inspections by the Fire Marshal. In order to ensure compliance with all laws, rules and regulations pertaining to fire and firesafety which are in effect in Worcester County, the Fire Marshal shall make such periodic inspections as he, in consultation with the Fire Prevention Committee, deems appropriate. Such inspections shall be made of all buildings, areas and structures as may be deemed appropriate. All public buildings, institutional buildings, residences accommodating more than two families, storage buildings and business or commercial buildings shall be inspected at least once a year. All sprinkler, standpipe and foam systems and all water curtains required by law shall be inspected annually and, if deemed necessary, tested annually by and at the convenience of the owner of such systems in the presence of the Fire Marshal and in the manner prescribed by him. The owner of such systems or water curtains shall pay any and all costs for labor and materials, not usually furnished by the Fire Department, incurred in connection with making such tests.
(d) 
Quality assurance program. The quality assurance program is implemented in order to guarantee that fire protection systems are receiving consistent, quality service testing, inspection and maintenance, thereby helping to ensure that such fire protection systems will function as intended in the event of an emergency.
[Added 10-21-2014 by Bill No. 14-9]
(1) 
The quality assurance program shall be administered by the Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office.
(2) 
In implementing the quality assurance program, the Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office may use a third-party vendor system and/or data collection agency as approved by the County Commissioners.
(3) 
All fire protection system inspection agencies, whether required to be licensed or not by an authorized state or County agency, shall comply with all regulations of the quality assurance program approved by the County Commissioners and administered by the Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office and shall:
A. 
Complete all necessary forms; and
B. 
Submit such forms within the established time period to the Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office; and
C. 
Pay any and all fees associated with the quality assurance program as established by resolution by the County Commissioners.
(a) 
Scope and records of complaints.
(1) 
Complaints shall include any and all written or oral complaints or information pertaining to any and all matters or things provided for by the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(2) 
A record shall be made of any and all complaints received by the Fire Marshal. All complaints received by fire companies located in an area subject to the jurisdiction of the Fire Marshal or by the Mayor and Council of any municipality subject to the jurisdiction of the Fire Marshal or any other county or city agency subject to the jurisdiction of the Fire Marshal dealing with violations of this Fire Prevention Code or other fire hazards shall be promptly forwarded to the Fire Marshal. The Fire Marshal shall maintain an orderly filing system for such complaints.
(b) 
Investigation of complaints. Every written, signed complaint which is received by the Fire Marshal shall be investigated by the Fire Marshal, and his findings with respect to such investigation shall be made in the form of a written report.
(c) 
Action on complaints. The Fire Marshal shall make a decision, in writing, on all complaints filed in accordance with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code within ten days after the date on which a complaint is received.
(a) 
General requirements of notices. Every notice issued by the Fire Marshal shall be in such form as he may direct and shall set forth the pertinent facts relating to the matter covered thereby, the requirements which must be complied with in order to correct the conditions set forth therein and the period of time in which the same shall be complied with.
(b) 
Serving of notices.
(1) 
All notices issued by the Fire Marshal pursuant to or in connection with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code shall be served on the owner or any one of several owners of the property which is the subject of any such notice or on any duly authorized agent of any such owner or owners. In the event that the property which is the subject of any such notice is occupied by some person other than the owner thereof, and the condition which caused the issuance of any such notice was created or permitted to occur or exist by the occupant of the property involved, then any and all notices issued by the Fire Marshal as aforesaid shall be served on the occupant of said property or on his duly authorized agent as well as on the owner of said property as aforesaid.
(2) 
All notices shall be served by registered or certified mail or by any representative of the Fire Marshal or by the Worcester County Sheriff or one of his deputies. When personal service is so made, the party serving the notice shall note upon a copy of the notice the date, time and person served, as well as his own name, and return said copy to the Fire Marshal.
(3) 
Nothing contained in this Fire Prevention Code shall be taken or construed to excuse or relieve any person from fully complying with any and all of the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code at any and all times, regardless of whether or not any notice has been issued by the Fire Marshal in any particular case.
(c) 
When notices cannot be served. In the event that the owner or occupant of any land, building or structure upon which a notice is to be served under the terms and provisions of this Fire Prevention Code does not reside in Worcester County or the whereabouts of any such owner or occupant cannot be ascertained by the Fire Marshal by examining the tax records of said Worcester County and the latest telephone directories and making inquiry of the occupants, if any, of any such land, building or structure, then any such notice shall be conspicuously posted by a duly authorized representative of the Fire Marshal upon that part of any land, building or structure to which such notice related, which is closest to a street, public highway or the usual entrance to said premises, so that such notice will be visible to the general public. After any such notice has been posted as aforesaid, the Fire Marshal shall take no action in connection with any premises so posted until and after the expiration of a period of thirty days, except that, in cases of emergency, the Fire Marshal shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code. In all cases where any such notice is posted on any land, building or structure as herein above provided, such posting shall be deemed to be adequate and sufficient service of such notice.
(d) 
Failure to comply with notices. In the event that any person fails to comply with the requirements of any notice issued pursuant to the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code, each failure shall constitute a violation of this Fire Prevention Code, and the Fire Marshal shall take any and all action that he may deem necessary or expedient and shall, with the consent of the County Commissioners of Worcester County, institute or cause to be instituted any and all appropriate legal actions or proceedings which may be necessary, expedient or proper to prevent the commencement or the continuation of or to eliminate, abate or correct the condition or conditions which are complained of or which are the subject matter of such notice.
(e) 
Extension of time limit on notices. The Fire Marshal may extend the period or periods of time within which the requirements of any notice must be complied with.
(a) 
Power of the Fire Marshal in emergencies. In case of the existence of an emergency where life or property is in immediate danger from any cause or thing covered or contemplated to be covered by this Fire Prevention Code and there is not sufficient time to comply with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code, the Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to and shall promptly and immediately take any and all action that may be necessary to protect such life and property without complying with the provisions of this Fire Prevention Code.
(b) 
Labor and material for emergency work. In all such cases of emergency where life or property is in immediate danger and it is necessary to perform any work or operation to protect life or property, the Fire Marshal is hereby authorized and empowered to temporarily employ such persons and purchase such material, either directly or by contract, as may be necessary to perform such work or operation. In any and all such cases, the entire amount or amounts of all costs or expenses expended or incurred by the Fire Marshal in avoiding, abating, correcting or removing or having avoided, abated, corrected or removed such dangerous condition shall be and become a debt, jointly and severally, due and owing by each and every owner of the premises, building or other structure whereon or wherein the dangerous condition exists and by any other person responsible for the creating of said condition to the County Commissioners of Worcester County upon the completion of the work or operation necessary to eliminate such dangerous condition. The amounts of any and all of the aforesaid debts due and owing to the County Commissioners of Worcester County shall be collected or enforced in the same manner as any other debts due and owing to the County Commissioners of Worcester County are collected or enforced.
(a) 
Violations of Fire Prevention Code. Every person shall fully comply with all of the terms and provisions of this Fire Prevention Code and with all the terms and provisions of any notice, order or decision issued by the Fire Marshal or the County Commissioners of Worcester County. Any act or actions which are contrary to any provision or requirement of and any and all failures to comply with any provisions or requirements of this Fire Prevention Code or any such notice, order or decision shall constitute a violation of this Fire Prevention Code.
(b) 
Violations. Any person who violates the provisions of this Subtitle shall be guilty of a civil infraction.
[Amended 11-10-1987 by Bill No. 87-5]
(c) 
Violation types. The following categories of Fire Prevention Code violations shall be determined by resolution of the County Commissioners.
[Added 6-16-2009 by Bill No. 09-2]
(1) 
Minor infractions.
(2) 
Intermediate infractions.
(3) 
Major infractions.
The State Fire Prevention Code, as adopted by the State Fire Prevention Commission, together with all rules, regulations and resolutions adopted thereunder, as the same may be from time to time amended, repealed, promulgated or supplanted, are hereby adopted as a part of the Fire Prevention Code of Worcester County and enforceable pursuant to this Subtitle in Worcester County.
The Worcester County Commissioners and the Worcester County Fire Marshal shall have all rights, powers, duties and authorities prescribed by the Public General Laws of the State of Maryland and all Public Local Laws of Worcester County, Maryland. The County Commissioners shall have the power and authority to make changes in and additions to the State Fire Prevention Code for enforcement within Worcester County. Such changes shall be made by Public Local Law.
(a) 
Additional regulations regulating buildings for the use and occupancy of nurseries, convalescent homes and homes for the aged.
(1) 
For the purpose of this Subtitle, the terms "nursery," "convalescent home" and "homes for the aged" shall be defined as follows:
CONVALESCENT HOME
A privately operated establishment devoted to the care of persons during the recuperative stage of an illness or in which persons may be cared for during an illness.
HOME FOR THE AGED
An establishment devoted to the general care and maintenance of old people. Such establishments may also supply inmates with the type of service rendered by the convalescent home.
NURSERY
An establishment where children under six years of age are kept during the daytime while the parent or parents are at work or otherwise engaged or when four or more children under six years of age are lodged at a stipulated rate of pay. Such an establishment may be privately operated and supported by fees charged for the service or it may be an establishment owned and operated by the municipality.
(2) 
The heating of buildings occupied for the purposes regulated by this subsection shall be restricted to steam, electric, hot-water and hot-air systems employing central heating plants with installation such as to safeguard the inherent fire hazard. The use of portable heaters of any kind is hereby prohibited.
(b) 
Additional regulations regulating tenting areas and tent sites.
(1) 
For the purpose of this Subtitle, the term "tenting area" shall include any premises where more than two tents or tent sites are located.
(2) 
In a tenting area, no tent or part of a tent shall be erected and/or maintained at a distance less than ten feet from any other tent or part thereof.
(3) 
All flammable liquids in a tenting area or at a tenting site shall be kept in approved types of safety cans or containers.
(4) 
No electric dispensing unit dispensing flammable liquids shall be located at a distance less than fifty feet from any tent or tent site.
(5) 
Every tenting area shall be designed, constructed and maintained in such a manner that no part of any tent site shall be further than one hundred feet from an upright outlet, raised at least one foot above the ground level, of a forced water supply line. Said forced water supply line shall have a minimum diameter of three-fourths of an inch. There shall be attached to each said upright outlet a faucet designed so that a hose may be easily attached thereto. There shall be available, at the location of every said upright outlet, a hose for use in case of fire, not less than fifty feet in length.
(6) 
The Fire Marshal, in his discretion, may require such other reasonable fire-fighting equipment to be installed for the safety and protection of persons and property in any tenting area.
(c) 
Additional regulations as to mobile homes.
(1) 
Notwithstanding the provisions of applicable codes, no mobile home shall be located or maintained as follows:
A. 
Any portion of a mobile home, excluding the tongue, shall not be located closer than ten feet side to side, eight feet end to side or six feet end to end horizontally from any other mobile home or community building, unless the exposed composite walls and roof of either structure are without opening and constructed of materials which will provide a one-hour fire rating or the structures are separated by a one-hour fire-rated barrier.
B. 
Provided that any mobile home legally located but in violation of such setbacks on the effective date hereof shall be allowed to remain so located for a period of one year from the effective date hereof, after which date all mobile homes shall fully comply with the provisions of this subsection.
(d) 
Additional regulations prohibiting certain fireworks.
[Added 6-4-2002 by Bill No. 02-8]
(1) 
In addition to fireworks prohibited by state law, the possession of ground-based sparkling devices, including without limitation, cylindrical or cone fountains, whether aerial or non-aerial and whether explosive or non-explosive, shall be prohibited in Worcester County, except and limited as follows:
A. 
It shall be legal to possess ground-based sparkling devices that are non-aerial and nonexplosive, provided they are labeled in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and produce a visual effect of no more than twelve feet in height.
B. 
Such ground-based sparkling devices referenced in Subsection (d)(1)A hereof, may only be sold in fully enclosed retail establishments upon the approval of the Worcester County Fire Marshal upon the filing of the appropriate application and payment of application fees as from time to time established by resolution of the County Commissioners. No ground-based sparkling devices shall be sold from a roadside stand or other temporary sales outlet in the County.
(e) 
Additional regulations regulating automatic fire sprinkler systems in townhouse units.
[Added 10-21-2014 by Bill No. 14-8]
(1) 
For the purposes of this Subtitle the term "townhouse" shall be defined as follows:
TOWNHOUSE
A single-family dwelling unit that is constructed in a horizontal series of attached units with property lines separating the units.
(2) 
Notwithstanding the provisions of any other applicable code or regulation, any group of three or more townhouse units shall be considered as a multifamily structure for the purposes of determining the applicable automatic fire sprinkler requirements unless the structure is provided with an automatic audible flow enunciator and an approved exterior fire department connection in which case the townhouse units shall be considered as a one- and two-family dwelling for the purpose of determining the applicable automatic fire sprinkler requirements.
[Amended 3-5-2016 by Bill No. 16-2]
[Added 6-16-2009 by Bill No. 09-3]
(a) 
Definitions. For the purpose of this Subtitle, the following definitions shall apply:
ALARM
The use of any equipment, device, appliance and/or system that produces an alarm, either audible, visual, a combination of both, or via electronic equipment to a system or person who reports the alarm as an emergency. An alarm system includes systems that produce a similarity to smoke, or flame or combination thereof, such as, but not limited to fog, mist, or flame, or any medical activation device that causes a response by a public safety agency.
ALARMED BUILDING
Any structure or premises, private or public where an alarm has been installed for the protection of life and property.
GOOD FAITH
A request for assistance; at the time of the alarm report, the request for emergency response was intended to be authentic.
NUISANCE ALARM
Any alarm for which a public safety agency response was initiated and its services are not needed shall constitute a nuisance alarm. Nuisance alarms do not include an alarm for assistance that was deemed in good faith.
PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCY/DEPARTMENT
Any legally designated County Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, Health, Emergency Management, Fire Marshal or Police agency authorized to respond to an alarm for emergency assistance.
(b) 
Nuisance response. A response by a public safety agency for a nuisance alarm to any alarmed building for which the services of that agency or department are not needed shall be limited to the following number of nuisance alarms, and the assigned alarm user shall be assessed the following fees for responses that exceed those limitations:
(1) 
Two responses within a twenty-four-hour period;
(2) 
Three responses within a thirty-day period;
(3) 
Six responses within one calendar year period (January 1st to December 31st).
(4) 
For nuisance alarms which exceed the aforesaid limitations, the assigned alarm user will be assessed a fee of $100 for each of the next two nuisance alarms and $200 for each additional nuisance alarm thereafter; and/or
(5) 
The Fire Marshal or the Director of Emergency Services is hereby authorized to order the correction or repair of any equipment, device, appliance, and/or system which has caused a nuisance alarm.
(6) 
At the discretion of the Fire Marshal or the Director of Emergency Services, responses to nuisance alarms that exceed Subsections (b)(1), (2) and/or (3) of this section may order the abatement and/or discontinuance of the use of the equipment, device, appliance, and/or system which has caused a nuisance alarm.
(c)
Violations.
(1)
Failure to correct or repair an alarm system shall be deemed an intermediate civil infraction as determined by resolution by the County Commissioners.
(2)
The failure to comply with such abatement/discontinuance order shall be deemed a major civil infraction as determined by resolution by the County Commissioners.