Ready Mix Concrete Association Pushes Anti-Wood Framing Bill in MD

House Bill 1472, Fire Safety Construction Act of 2016, has been introduced in the Maryland legislature.

What the Bill Does:

  • Prohibits the use of light framed combustible construction (wood framing) for multifamily structures  in densely populated areas around the state
  • Structures that are able to use wood framing are required to have a fire watch guard present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during all phases of construction
  • Requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to adopt the bill’s provisions into the Maryland Building Performance Standards
  • The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) reports that the bill is likely to increase local jurisdiction expenses in order to adopt and enforce the building codes and imposes a mandate on local government to make these changes

What the Supporters Said:

  • This bill was requested and supported by The Maryland Ready Mix Concrete Association as life safety requirement so multifamily buildings do not burn
  • They claimed that at the most there would be a 5-8 percent cost increase for materials associated with constructing multifamily structures with concrete as opposed to wood
  • New Jersey passed legislation very close to this bill in reaction to an apartment fire

What the Opposition Said:

  • This measure has nothing to do with life safety but rather is simply forcing the use of concrete and steel framing for 3-4 story multifamily structures
  • Concrete and steel framed constructed costs at least 30 percent more than building code approved framing methods
  • The issues raised in this legislation were raised at the International Code Council and the National Fire Prevention Association code reviews and were rejected
  • Wood framing is a cost effective, safe and environmentally sustainable material that is recognized as such by the International Construction Code, International Residential Code, The National Fire Prevention Code and The International Green Codes

Status of the Bill:

House Bill 1472 was heard by the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 8th and was reviewed by the Housing and Real Property Subcommittee on March 9th  The Subcommittee will take up again in the next week and vote either favorable or unfavorable.  The Committee may then take up the bill in a full Committee voting session 

 

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