527 CMR: Board of Fire Prevention Regulations (Unofficial Copy)

527 CMR 17.00: Forest Products

http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/cmr/cmrtext/527CMR17.pdf

Summary of regulation: On or after September 1, 2012, mulch shall not be newly applied within 18” of any combustible portion of any building.  Exception:  1. Any building, regardless of the existence of fire separations, containing six (6) dwelling units or less.

Though we have not been able to obtain written confirmation from the state, the initial interpretations of the regulation, we are forced to follow the “wording” of the regulation.  This regulation applies to newly applied mulch.   There is no reference to removing existing mulch.

The regulation further provides an exception for dwellings containing less than six (6) units.

The rule further confirms that the eighteen (18) inches rule is applied to “within 18” measured horizontally, diagonally, or vertically of any combustible building exterior finish”.

As for the number of units, the “Exception” appears to address this.  There is no mention or reference to number of units of the complex, but rather number of units in any building.   If the buildings are not contiguous or connected, then the “Under 6 Units” exception should prevail.

We understand that this does not address all the concerns, or completely verify the regulation.  Unfortunately as with many new rules and regulations, they can be drafted to address a problem, but not provide enough clarity.

Our recommendation is that you contact the local fire marshal in the respective town/city for their interpretation for any building containing more than six (6) dwelling units.

As with all our risk assessments, we recommend our clients keep all combustible material a minimum of thirty-six (36) inches from the structure.  Additionally, though the regulation does not specifically address this, we recommend and encourage our clients to keep plants, shrubs, and trees pruned away from the building to the minimum thirty-six (36) inches.   This helps to minimize potential fire, water, animal/vermin, and theft exposures.

The above web link provides the current version of the regulation.