Mayor and Council

   For the meeting on:

  November 19, 2012
   Department:   Community Planning and Development Services
   Responsible staff:  Aaron Smith, Fire Plans Examiner
  phone: (240) 314 - 240-314-8250

Discussion and Instruction, and Adoption of An ordinance to repeal and reenact with amendments Chapter 9 of the Rockville City Code, entitled "Fire Safety Code" so as to adopt and incorporate by reference the State of Maryland Fire Prevention Code with amendments, as the Fire Prevention Code of the City of Rockville.

Direct staff to make any necessary changes as needed and/or adopt the ordinance as written.

Change in Law or Policy
The proposed ordinance will repeal and re-enact with amendments Chapter 9 of the Rockville City Code entitled "Fire Safety Code" so as to adopt the 2012 editions of the Fire Code (NFPA 1), the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), and all associated National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes or standards incorporated by reference with amendments as the "Fire Safety Code" of the City of Rockville.

The attached draft ordinance is the proposed update to the City's fire code. Attachment A is the proposed ordinance as amended to address comments received through the Fire Code Advisory Committee, public comment period and individual meetings with members of Mayor and Council. Attachment B is a summary of significant changes to the code and indicates the catalyst for some of the changes being recommended. The summary depicts those items that have been amended from the previous Maryland Fire Prevention Code which is currently in effect throughout the State of Maryland.

A matrix of all comments received during the public comment period and from the Fire Code Advisory Committee has been provided as Attachment C. The matrix includes a summary of comments received as of noon Friday, October 19, 2012, the code section on which the comments are based and the staff response to each of the comments. Most of the comments or suggestions were more of a clarifying nature rather than a technical change. A few changes, such as reinstatement of fire extinguisher requirements, are substantive.

On January 1, 2013, the State of Maryland will make effective the 2012 editions of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1, 101, and their referenced codes and standards. The State requires that all jurisdictions enforce the revised Maryland Fire Prevention Code by that date. Like the building regulations in Chapter 5, the City’s fire regulations are composed of the provisions of the Maryland Code and our local amendments found in Chapter 9 of the City Code.

The Maryland Code is updated every three years while the Rockville Fire Safety Code was last amended in 1979; no significant changes or updates occurred thereafter. Since that time, the City has enforced the Maryland State Fire Prevention Code, which serves as the minimum requirements for the State. The City, while not required to adopt local amendments, has the option to amend its codes to address local issues and allow for consistency with other local codes. The codes and standards adopted by the State allow for local modification, provided that the modification does not lessen the original requirements of the language as prescribed in COMAR

Most of the local amendments proposed are:

  • Requested by the Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.
  • To align Chapter 9 (Fire Code) with Chapter 5 (Building Code) by adopting the administrative requirements of Articles I, III and IV of Chapter 5.
  • To codify Rockville best practices.

The substantive changes in the 2012 edition apply primarily to commercial and multi-family buildings; however, one may apply to single family homes in limited circumstances. It can be found in Article VI and mirrors Montgomery County's code. It may result in increased sprinkler pipe sizes in very rare cases.

Mayor and Council History
This item was introduced on September 10, 2012. A public hearing was held on October 8, 2012. The public record was held open through October 19, 2012.

Public Notification and Engagement
The public hearing was advertised in the Gazette on September 19 and 26 of 2012, published in the October edition of Rockville Reports and featured in the October edition of Rockville Channel 11 news. Prior to the public hearing notices being advertised, the proposed ordinance was sent out for review by the Fire Code Advisory Committee; the committee is comprised of fire protection engineers, architects, construction association representatives, and staff from the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, the City of Gaithersburg Fire Marshal's Office, and Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI). The Committee met a total of four times and provided comments which have been included in the matrix of public comments (Attachment C).

Next Steps
The Mayor and Council may adopt the ordinance as written or direct staff to amend the document. The effective date of the ordinance, as proposed, would be January 1, 2013 to align with the update of the State Fire Prevention Code.

Attachment A 2012 Chapter 9 Final.pdfAttachment A 2012 Chapter 9 Final.pdfCh.9 Summary of Changes Attachment B.pdfCh.9 Summary of Changes Attachment B.pdfAttachment C Chapter 9 Public Comment Martix.pdfAttachment C Chapter 9 Public Comment Martix.pdf

Department Head:

Susan Swift, Director of Community Planning and Development Services
Approved on: 10/19/2012

City Manager:

Approved on: 10/24/2012