Office of the Fire Marshal

HCFR Fire Marshal Logo_RGB

A Letter to All Howard County Business Partners

April 6, 2020

As many businesses and corporations actively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the intention of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Office of the Fire Marshal to ensure that there are no deviations in normal operations at places of business which result in a compromise of life safety or fire code regulations.  While the focus is appropriately intended to maintain the health and safety of employees and the public, any condition which creates a situation where life safety measures normally in place are diminished is prohibited.

Exit access cannot be obstructed, nor can a marked exit door be “locked” in any way to prevent the use of an exit in any circumstance.  If a place of business desires that the public use a specific exit, they may position an employee or store associate at other exits and request that they use the “preferred” exit discharge. However, under no circumstance can anyone be prevented from using a marked exit in case of emergency.

Listed below are examples of life safety practices that should continue to be employed.

·      Exits - All exits are unlocked and not blocked

·      Storage – All storage areas are clean, orderly, and not excessive

·      Capacity – Your occupancy does not exceed the posted capacity limit

·      Aisles – All aisles are kept free and clear of obstructions

·      Protection – Fire alarm and fire suppression systems are in proper working order

·      Emergency Lighting – Are clear and in working order


Questions about the Fire Marshal's Office can be directed to 410-313-6040 with a voice mail or via the inquiry complaint form found at:

Occupancy Recommendations during COVID-19 (PDF)

Legal and Procedural Deadlines Notification

Pursuant to County Executive Order 2020-03 suspending the effect of legal and procedural deadlines and time periods, deadlines and time periods in Title 17, Subtitle 1 of the Howard County Code were suspended. County Executive Order 2020-04 delegates authority to department directors to re