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So you’re wondering what you’ll have to do to meet State requirements when opening a B&B in Maine?

First determine how many bedrooms will be available for rent. You are allowed to rent to 3 non-family members without requiring State approval. At 2 people per bed, that equals 1 bedroom. (The 2nd rental bedroom might include a 4th person). Once you are set up to rent more than 8 beds, (16 people), then the occupancy changes from the B & B classification of Rooming & Lodging to Hotel. Hotel use has more stringent requirements than does Rooming and Lodging.

Second, obtain a permit from our office to document that your plans will adhere to State law, and the 1997 NFPA 101 Life Safety Code...


Means of Egress and Sprinkler Systems
The Maine Innkeepers Association successfully initiated legislation in the first year of the 120th Legislature that allows two-story B&Bs and inns that sleep fewer than 16 people to have a single exit rather than two means of egress from every room if the building is protected throughout by an approved automatic sprinkler system and meets all other requirements of NFPA Life Safety Code 101. This legislation actually removes the term "boarding house or lodging house" from the statute mandating the second means of egress. It had previously appeared following the term "hotel" toward the top of the section. To view the amended law, click here.

For more information regarding sprinkler systems, visit the State Fire Marshall's web site by clicking here.

Grandfathering Issues
Eric Ellis, in the plans review division of the State Fire Marshal's Office, shared with us some insights on grandfathering.

B&Bs that have a maximum potential of 16 people or fewer sleeping overnight are classified as "rooming and lodging" in the 2000 edition of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, which Maine has adopted. In the chapter on rooming and lodging, the code indicates a sprinkler requirement for NEW rooming and lodging facilities.The State Fire Marshal's Office only requires a state permit for new B&Bs and for expansions of existing B&Bs.

Existing B&BS are therefore NOT required to sprinkle. Also, change of ownership does NOT require code changes or a sprinkler system at the state level (local code may be more stringent). Renovations that are maintenance do not require updating to meet codes. These include:

  • wallpapering
  • painting
  • new roof
  • siding
  • windows

Changing the location and number of stairs, walls and windows may require a review by the State Fire Marshal's Office, because these types of renovations might affect fire protection features.

Smoke Detectors are Important
The most important part of the rest of the NFPA Life Safety 101 chapter on rooming and lodging deals with smoke detectors, Mr. Ellis says. "Most fire deaths in Maine could be prevented from this one, relatively inexpensive fire protection feature." That is, to have smoke detectors in every sleeping room hardwired to the building's electrical system, and to have battery backup. You may reach Mr. Ellis at the State Fire Marshal's Office at 207-624-8736. He also indicates you may e-mail him at href=""

Release Date: 1/19/2002 12:00:00 AM