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Bill Barnard


The Maryland experience

Bill Barnard

Bill Barnard has been the Maryland State Fire Marshal since 2001 and has been actively involved in Maryland’s fire and rescue service for more than 40 years. Download his presentation, "The Maryland Experience".

Maryland is one of two states requiring fire sprinklers in all residential occupancies. A great number of local jurisdictions had adopted the requirement prior to the adoption of the model codes containing the requirement. 

The evolution of fire sprinklers in Maryland started in 1984 when the Office of the State Fire Marshal, under the leadership of former State Fire Marshal Rocco Gabriele, sponsored a seminar titled, “Maryland Project Zero.” Prince George’s County was the first community to adopt a phased-in requirement effective January 1, 1992. A report was compiled that provided data to illustrate the success of its ordinance in reducing fire deaths:

  • Over 120 fire deaths since 1992 in residential occupancies
  • Today over 60,000 sprinklered homes
  • Over 400 fires in sprinklered homes
  • 0 fire deaths in sprinklered homes

In 1992, a statewide requirement for townhouses was adopted and interest grew in local jurisdictions to adopt one- and two- family dwelling requirements. In 2010, statewide adoption occurs but the state Attorney General rules that local jurisdictions are able to weaken the adopted standards. In 2012, legislation was enacted to prohibit weakening the automatic fire sprinkler systems provisions for townhouses and one-and-two-family dwellings contained in the standards.

In 2012, Fire Marshal Barnard received the “Bringing Safety Home” award from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The award recognizes the outstanding local efforts of a fire official who has worked to increase the installation of residential fire sprinkler systems in his or her service area. 

Gary Keith, former NFPA Vice President of Regional Operations. presented the award to Fire Marshal Barnard and said “He will give credit to others…” but added that the achievements in the State of Maryland would not have been possible without Bill’s leadership and efforts.