Safer Construction Advocates Call on Maryland State Senate to Build With Strength
Last week, the Maryland State Senate committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs heard testimony on Senate Bill 722, a bill introduced by Committee Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, which seeks to limit dangerous lightweight combustible wood construction in low- to mid-rise residential buildings throughout the state.
"The code changes that have gone into effect in Maryland over the last eight years allowing the use of combustible framing materials in taller and larger buildings contain unparalleled levels of risk," said Steve Lohr, fire chief for the city of Hagerstown, who testified during the hearing. "SB 722 goes a long way toward addressing the issues these changes create for the fire service and first responders, and I do not think we can afford to wait."
Six young children were killed in a Baltimore house fire in December and nine Marylanders have already been killed in fires in the first 30 days of 2017. In response, the fire safety community, structural engineers and proponents of safer construction methods are coming together to urge state lawmakers to enact stricter building code standards to prevent needless tragedies from striking the community. SB 722 joins the resilient building efforts of other communities throughout the country that, in large part, mirror an August 2016 Sandy Springs, Georgia City Council ordinance amending the city’s building code to include new requirements that prohibit combustible building materials from being used in certain building elements.
Through the Build with Strength initiative, NRMCA has resources to help members and state affiliates advocate for resilient and safer construction, including model legislation, talking points, public relations and other key strategies. To learn more about how NRMCA can assist in state advocacy, please contact John Loyer, vice president of state and local government affairs, at 703-675-7603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.