A Carroll County commissioner with decades of firefighting experience testified in Annapolis on Tuesday in support of a Maryland bill that would require the state fire marshal to enforce residential fire sprinkler requirements.
Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, who has 30 years of experience as a career firefighter in the state and 44 years as a volunteer firefighter, said Tuesday the Maryland State Firemen’s Association asked if he would speak to the importance of House Bill 823 at a hearing of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, and he did.
In his firefighting experience, Wantz said, he has seen the impact of sprinklers. “They save lives,” he said in an interview after giving his testimony.
Wantz said he approached the testimony from a perspective of “protecting our firefighters,” but he noted that sprinklers benefit everyone involved, not only first-responders. He said he has responded to fires where there were no sprinklers and saw “an incredible amount of damage,” whereas homes with sprinklers were dealt a “whole lot less damage,” most of it because of water and smoke.
Former Del. James Malone Jr., who serves on the legislative committee of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, and Michael “Mike” Faust, the association’s president, also testified in favor of the legislation, Wantz said.