In the wake of a fatal apartment building fire last month in Silver Spring, local leaders strongly support a new state-level bill named after the 25-year-old woman who was killed.
The Melanie Diaz Sprinklers Save Lives Act — House Bill 1292 — requires high-rise buildings to install an automatic smoke alarm in every public corridor that is accessible by units beginning July 1 of this year, per a release. The bill would also require buildings to post a notice in all main entrances and also note in the lease starting this July if there are not automatic sprinkler systems.
Diaz died with her two dogs in a Feb. 18 fire at the Arrive apartments on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Many residents were displaced.
The Arrive apartment complex has sprinklers only in the stairwells and mechanical rooms, according to fire and rescue officials. There are none in individual apartment units.
On Monday, the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich sent a letter to the Maryland House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee in support of the bill.
“Since a majority of the older, unprotected buildings are in Montgomery County, we believe this legislation is urgent to prevent further tragedies and critical to the safety of constituents,” councilmembers and Elrich wrote. Councilmember Kate Stewart led the letter.
The State Fire Marshal has already mandated that all residential high-rise buildings be fully sprinkled by 2033, according to the county. The new bill would also codify in law that all high-rise buildings be protected by an automatic sprinkler system after January 1, 2033.
Per the release, the legislation requires some state offices to work together to identify funding to help building owners meet requirements.
The legislation is sponsored by State Delegates Lorig Charkoudian, Marvin Holmes, David Moon, Emily Shetty, Jared Solomon and Jheanelle Wilkins.