Variance Process

The Ocean City Fire Prevention Code (“Fire Code”) provides for a variance process in section 34-25. A variance to the requirements outlined in the Fire Code can be applied for by owners, managers, or lessees of properties where there are practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the Fire Code, provided that the spirit of the Fire Code is observed and public safety secured. Note: Application of a variance request does not absolve the applicant of liability or responsibility of Fire Code compliance unless written approval for variance is obtained.

The variance process is outlined below: 

Step 1: Request for Variance to Fire Marshal (OCFPC 34-25)

Upon receipt of a written, issued requirement of code compliance from the Office of the Fire Marshal (Violation Notice, Violation Letter, Plans Review Comment Sheet, Permit Application Denial, etc.), an owner, manager, or lessee may request a variance to the Fire Marshal from the requirements (in whole or in part), where practical difficulties exist in the way of in carrying out the strict letter of the Fire Code.

A variance request must be submitted in writing; details and submission requirements are contained on the Variance Application form found here: Variance Application PDF

Step 2: Appeal of Decision of Fire Marshal to OC Fire Commission (OCFPC 34-21, 26)

Upon receipt of written decision of the Fire Marshal related to a variance request, (which may include denial or approval with specific conditions), the applicant may then file a written appeal of the decision of the Fire Marshal within thirty (30) days to the Ocean City Fire Prevention Commission. The Fire Prevention Commission may countermand any action taken by the Fire Marshal, “whenever, in its opinion, the action is arbitrary, oppressive, and/or contrary to the spirit of this Code.”

Appeals to the Fire Prevention Commission must be submitted in writing; details and submission requirements are contained on the form found here: Fire Prevention Commission Application for Appeal PDF

Step 3: Appeal of Fire Commission to Circuit Court (OCFPC 34-26)

Applicants may appeal the final decision of the Fire Commission to Maryland Circuit Court in accordance with the procedures set forth in State law. Details on how to file an appeal via a petition for judicial review can be found here:

Other Appeals*

See Fire Code section 34-26 for other actions that may be appealed to the Fire Commission.






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*Building/property-specific variances are maintained in the individual premise files at the Office of the Fire Marshal.