STATEWIDE (October 9, 2020) – The start of Halloween season is upon us, which means, typically, dozens of haunted house attractions would be preparing to open to the public all across Maryland. However, this year, the state’s COVID-19 pandemic emergency has closed or significantly reduced the number of attractions. 

State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci wants to remind everyone the State Fire Prevention Code requires adequate fire protection to be provided in “Haunted Houses” and special amusement buildings. Both permanent and temporary use structures fall under these requirements. “These common-sense requirements, based on national model codes and standards, will help us avert a tragedy similar to the one that struck a New Jersey theme park over two decades ago. That incident resulted in the tragic loss of eight lives,” said the State Fire Marshal. 

Requirements such as a sufficient number of exits, automatic smoke detection in reduced-lighting venues, exit marking, and emergency lighting help alert occupants in the event of a fire. Additional requirements addressing automatic fire sprinkler protection, restrictions against using flammable and combustible finishes and wall coverings, and banning open flame devices such as candles and lanterns along with smoking prohibitions, promote a fire-safe environment.

It is important to keep in mind that these structures have unique fire safety requirements to create an enjoyable and safe environment for everyone. Fire Safety Inspectors with the Office of the State Fire Marshal have inspected the few attractions scheduled to be open and determined they have met the fire safety code and requirement. These inspections ensure the safety of both the visitors and the employees.

“Smoke machines, dim lighting, cramped corridors, and loud noises can create true terror for patrons if a fire occurs within a haunted house attraction. Although ‘Haunted Houses’ may not seem to present a fire danger to most people, patrons can become easily disoriented during a fire emergency. The best way to ensure fire safety is with proper training and remaining vigilant,” says Geraci 

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