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Various Fire Sprinkler Laws
Below is my summary of major Maine laws that have to do with the requirement for fire sprinkler systems. Keep in mind that it is just a rough summary, leaving out many details. For the exact reading of the laws, go to www.maine.gov, then click on “Government”, then “Laws & Legal Resources”, then “Search Maine Laws by Keyword or Title/Section Number”. The statute title and section numbers are included below. The names of the laws below are my own generic labels
The Fire Sprinkler Law is Title 32, Sections 1371 through 1382. It is also available by going to the State’s fire sprinkler webpage at www.mainefiremarshal.com/sprinkho.htm, and then clicking on “Fire Sprinkler Law”. This law went into effect 1-1-90 and requires the industry to be licensed and to get permits from our office before beginning installations. There are exceptions for small jobs of a certain size. For a summary of how the law works, go to our webpage and click on “Summary of How the Fire Sprinkler Industry is Regulated in Maine”.
The Hotel Law is Title 25, Section 2463. It requires an automatic fire sprinkler system for all hotels that are new after 1-1-92, if they have 2 or more stories above grade and have 15 or more sleeping rooms for hire. Our office has always interpreted the 15 or more sleeping rooms for hire as the total on the property, but it is only the building(s) with 2 or more stories above grade that will require the sprinkler system as long as there is adequate separation between the buildings. Note that Maine laws take precedence over the adopted National Fire Protection Association’s 101 Life Safety Code, which might grant exceptions for construction type and/or certain egress situations, but even though the Hotel Law is a specific fire sprinkler requirement beyond the NFPA 101, it also in no way exempts a building or group of buildings from requirements of the NFPA 101 whenever they are more stringent than the law. It should also be noted that this law originally applied starting in 1971, and was later amended in 1991 to apply starting in 1992. This means that hotels that were new or that had new additions between 1971 and 1992 would fall under the original law rather than the present amended law.
The High Rise Law is the same as the Hotel Law. The Hotel Law includes a few lines that also require all high-rise buildings built after 1-1-92 to have an automatic fire sprinkler system. The term "high-rise building" is defined as any building used for any commercial purpose that is 75 feet or more above grade level. In addition to this law, our office has adopted NFPA 1, the Uniform Fire Code, which requires all existing high-rise buildings to have automatic fire sprinkler systems within 12 years of the adoption of the code. You can find the reference in the 2003 edition in section 22.214.171.124. Most of these buildings in Maine are in Portland. Portland adopted the code years ago and has since been working with owners to phase-in the installation of fire sprinkler systems for all of them.
The Dormitory Law is Title 25, Chapter 317, and Section 2463-A. It requires the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, the Maine Maritime Academy, and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics to provide automatic fire sprinkler systems for dormitories that are new as of 1-1-01 before occupancy will be allowed. Existing dormitories for these schools are also required to have automatic fire sprinkler systems, but they are allowed to phase in the systems by 1-1-13 according to a specified time schedule. A dormitory is defined as a building using 5 overnight rooms for students or 15 students total. Our office generates a report to the legislature every odd year on this project.
The Fire Escape Law is Title 25, Section 2453, and includes this line on fire sprinklers, “Any apartment building of 3 stories or less in its entirety is permitted to have a single exit under the condition that the building is protected throughout by an approved automatic sprinkler system, meets the requirements of the applicable chapter of the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 101 and every sleeping room has a 2nd means of escape.”
The Life Safety & Property Protection Law is Title 25, Section 2452. The parts related to sprinkler systems exempt existing noncommercial places of assembly with occupant loads of 300 or less from the requirement for fire sprinkler systems. Noncommercial places of assembly are defined as churches, meeting areas, entertainment areas, and areas used for awaiting transportation, such as bus stations and airports.
This law then goes on to require fire sprinkler systems in existing buildings that are licensed according to Title 22, Subtitle 6, [see The Assisted Living Law below] that have more than 6 boarders, being used as “residential-custodial care” must have a fire sprinkler system. These are basically different types of elderly housing, such as “Congregate Care”, “Elderly Apartments”, and “Assisted Living” facilities. (Board & care facilities and children’s homes do not fall in this category, although NFPA 101 may require them to have fire sprinkler coverage as well, depending upon a number of factors.)
This law was amended in 2011 to exempt the fire sprinkler requirement for existing bars over 100 people, (from NFPA 101), if they are open for no more than 50 days per year. It was also amended so that now nursing homes of any size are required to have fire sprinkler systems. The online version of this law is not fully updated as of 1-3-12.
The Assisted Living Law is Title 22, Subtitle 6, Section 7856, and includes this line on fire sprinklers, “All assisted living programs must be inspected using the chapter pertaining to new apartment buildings of the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code adopted by the Department of Public Safety, Office of the State Fire Marshal and must be protected throughout by a supervised, automatic sprinkler system approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety.”
The Fireworks Law is Title 8, Section 221-A, but as of 1-3-12 is not on the website in its entirety. It requires the sale of consumer fireworks to be regulated according to NFPA 1124, but in coordinating NFPA 1124 with the more stringent state building code, MUBEC, it was decided to go with MUBEC. The result is that every consumer fireworks retail store must have a fire sprinkler system according to NFPA 13. There will be some discussion about this at the next MUBEC meeting on January 19, 2012.
[Last updated 1-3-12 to include the new fireworks law and to add the changes made in 2011 to the life safety & property protection law. It was previously updated 3/7/08.]
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