The mayor's office has committed to resolving the ongoing discrepancies in Baltimore City Fire Department's interpretation of Appendix D of the International Fire Code. We believe that the likely resolution will be in the form of an emergency access commission that reviews and grants or rejects exceptions to the current interpretation of Appendix D. We have a number of concerns with this approach, including that it will inevitably lead to inconsistency as major developers will spend the time to lobby for exemptions while smaller development projects or city projects like street re-design likely will simply stick with the code as written--which will be bad for urban design and street safety.
As we continue to discuss a permanent resolution, inconsistency is rampant. The Fire Department demanded a re-design of Potomac Street, adjacent to two story rowhomes, but demanded no such re-design for Preston Gardens, adjacent to several hundred foot tall buildings, despite clear width on these streets being the same.
We have sent the below letter to the Baltimore City Planning Commission about several major development projects on the commission agenda tomorrow that fail to meet BCFD's current interpretation of Appendix D of the IFC.
We want to be clear that we support good urban development. We don't want the fire code to hold these projects up either. But we just don't understand how these projects can move forward while BCFD demands re-design of major bicycle infrastructure projects that would have created similar or even better fire access conditions than these developments.