The Ocean City Council approved the adoption of fire code amendments during Monday's council meeting. 

(June 19, 2020) The Ocean City Council gave its final approval Monday night to the 2018 National Fire Protection and Life Safety Codes with local amendments and will now proceed with implementing it. 

“We appreciate the opportunity provided by the City Clerk’s and Council’s recommended Code review (by Municode) to take a proactive look at the Ocean City Fire Prevention Code (Chapter 34),” Fire Marshal Deputy Fire Chief Josh Bunting said. “It gave us the opportunity to update verbiage, references, and the overall code organization to make it more user friendly to architects, designers, builders, and the general public, while ensuring it continued to provide proactive fire safety measures that continue to make Ocean City a safe place to live and work.”

Last year, City Clerk Diana Chavis and members of the fire marshal’s office reviewed chapter 34 of the city’s code, which focuses on fire prevention and protection. 

The goal was to reorganize and improve efficiency and understanding of the language, update out-of-date codes, standards and references, clarify and align code verbiage to reflect current standards and implement Municode recommendations. 

Implementing the 2018 edition of the National Fire Protection Association code would have some fiscal impacts. 

Under the new code, hotels with fire alarm systems that do not automatically notify the fire department must have a telephone available to ensure contact can be made during times of emergency. 

Hotels replacing an outdated fire sprinkler system must purchase a new one with the notification component. 

These rules are also applicable to apartment and condominium buildings. 

 The 2018 edition also requires dance halls and nightclubs with capacity of more than 100 people to install a fire sprinkler system, although preliminary reviews found only one property would be affected by this requirement. 

The rules will not go into effect immediately, as the fire marshal’s office and city clerk recognized the drain the novel coronavirus pandemic has had on business revenues. 

Bunting said previously that the changes would be implemented incrementally. 

Property owners would be notified and compliance would take effect upon amendment or repeal of coronavirus-related public gathering restrictions. 

Those notified would then have 60 days to submit a written intent to comply and 12 months from the initial notification to submit plans and/or a permit for the sprinkler system, and associated water supply, installment. 

After 36 months of the initial notification, the owner would be required to be in compliance. 

The council approved the ordinance with a sole opposition vote made by Councilman Tony DeLuca, who disapproved of the delayed compliance requirement. 

“Once a potential safety issue is brought to our attention, or my attention, it should be addressed now,” DeLuca said.  

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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