Fire Sprinkler Requirements for Properties in the Annapolis Historic District
Why Fire Sprinklers?
In late 2015, a fire at the Annapolis Yacht Club destroyed the building and caused $9 million in damage. That fire prompted City of Annapolis officials to create a task force to review the need for a sprinkler retrofit ordinance to protect other structures in the historic district. A decision was made to proceed with a sprinkler system retrofit requirements for structures in the historic district. In 2022, the Annapolis City Council passed an ordinance requiring +/-50 structures along Main and Francis Streets to be retrofitted.
"Fire damage is one of the speediest and most ruthless threats to historic structures"
- National Trust for Historic Preservation
All buildings on Main Street and Francis Street with a dedicated City water line for sprinkler system connection, are required to be sprinklered no later than five years from the date of ordinance passage (no later than April 6, 2027).
🚒 Significantly increase life safety of building occupants and firefighters.
🚒 Slow fire events to allow more productive firefighting measures.
🚒 Drastically reduce property damage from fire to historic buildings and contents (most fires are extinguished with the activation of one sprinkler head).
Fire Prevention Code Compliance
In April of 2022, the Annapolis City Council passed ordinance O-1-22, requiring owners of residential and commercial structures in the area of Main Street and Francis Street to install an automatic fire sprinkler system.
City of Annapolis Sprinkler Loan
The City of Annapolis offers 5-year, 1% APR loans* for sprinkler retrofits to property owners in the downtown Historic District. Loan amounts up to $45,000, available until the annual allocation of the fund is exhausted. Here’s the process:
1. Have a licensed contractor (By going to Maryland OneStop) create a plan for your building sprinkler retrofit.
2. Complete the online loan application (scan the QR code, above, or use the keyword “sprinkler loan” at www.annapolis.gov).
3. Once the finance office has reviewed the completed application, they will share it with the Fire Marshal who check with the permit office (see permit process at right) and then sign off and send to the City of Annapolis Office of Law to draw up a contract.
4. Once Law has completed the contract and building permits are issued, the payment can be disbursed as a check to the applicant.
* Please note: City Loans are available with the priorities given to those proposing residential use in upper floors and/or utilizing a certified minority contractor.
Get Access to Insurance Premium Discounts
Insurance premiums may be reduced upon completion of a working fire sprinkler system. It is estimated that commercial properties can recoup the investment in fire sprinklers within a decade.
And Tax Credits
Buildings with fire sprinklers and suppression are eligible for federal tax credits under Section 179 of the United States Tax Code. Check with your financial planner for details.
In addition, interior improvements to life safety for buildings in the Historic District may qualify for an Annapolis City Historic Preservation Tax Credit (City Code 6.04.230).
Fire sprinklers must comply with National Fire Protection Association Standard 13. Before work commences, your licensed contractor must obtain a building permit. Building owners are encouraged to seek bid proposals for the installation work from licensed minority contractors or business enterprises.
Step-By-Step Permit Process
- The licensed contractor will apply for a Fire Protection System Permit.
- The Fire Marshal’s Office will review the application and plans.
- The Fire Marshal’s Office will issue a permit once the plan is approved. The sprinkler contractor may begin installing the system and requesting inspections once the permit is issued
- A utility contractor who is going to connect to the existing lateral will apply for a plumbing permit and indicate the work is for water service.
- The utility contractor will also apply for a street/sidewalk opening permit from Public Works.
- Once the utility contractor has those approvals they can bring the fire main into the building so it can be connected to the sprinkler system.