A bill named for Joshua Laird — a Frederick County Department of Fire and Rescue Services battalion chief who died in August battling a two-alarm fire — was one of more than 100 that Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law Thursday.
The new measure is meant to prevent pipes from failing after a lightning strike, which is what ignited the fire Laird was fighting when he died.
Sara Laird, the wife of the late firefighter, attended the signing at the State House in Annapolis with her daughters and Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe, among others.
“It means a lot to me and my daughters,” she said, adding that she hopes the legislation will prevent similar deaths and property loss.
The bill, HB1052, is also named for Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Lt. Nathan Flynn, who died in 2018 from injuries he sustained after responding to a seven-alarm house fire, according to the Howard County Times.
Lightning also caused the fire that Flynn was battling.
The Flynn and Laird Act will require a certain type of pipe and tubing in gas piping systems — arc-resistant and jacketed, if corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) is used for natural gas and propane pipes — in new residential or commercial buildings, or when replacing lines in these structures, to prevent lightning strikes from igniting fires.
“The ensuing gas-fed fires caused millions of dollars in property loss, but moreover, those fires have cost lives,” Coe said during a bill hearing in March.
The purpose of the bill was to prevent more first responders from being killed, bill sponsor Del. Marvin Holmes Jr., D-Prince George’s, said during the hearing.