WASHINGTON – American Wood Council (AWC) Northeast Regional Manager Matt Hunter, BCO, along with numerous representatives from building owners, architecture, development, and engineering, all testified yesterday in opposition of Maryland House Bill 1311. The bill would prohibit a multifamily dwelling from being constructed using wood-frame construction in jurisdictions exceeding a specified population density. The legislation is a companion to Senate Bill 722.
AWC Vice President of Codes and Regulations Kenneth Bland issued the following statement about the hearing:
“These bills would circumvent the extensive effort architects, engineers, and building code officials put into the process to regularly update the national model building codes. The construction requirements of the model codes are developed by the International Code Council and approved by building and fire officials from all over the country in a consensus process. Subsequently, Maryland adopts these model codes and requires each jurisdiction to use this building code. The code establishes requirements such that all buildings have similar safety performance regardless of the materials from which they are constructed.
“There needs to be a realization that fires occur in buildings of all construction types and materials, and all buildings are affected by fire. In most instances it is the furnishings and contents brought into buildings that cause fires, so targeting wood construction in multi-family buildings is not going to improve occupant or firefighter life safety. S.B. 722 and H.B. 1311 are not promoting proven safety measures; they are promoting the interests of specific building materials.”