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Pennsylvania borough wants to require carbon monoxide alarms

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By Lisa Braxton

The borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, is seeking to overhaul its property maintenance code to include a requirement for working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in all homes – in both rentals and owner-occupied dwellings – if they either heat with fossil fuel or have an attached garage.

According to Public Opinion, the new requirement for carbon monoxide alarms comes as a result of concerns by borough officials and Chambersburg Fire Department Chief Howard Leonhard about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Estimating that about 75 percent of all homes and apartments in the borough have a fossil fuel source of heat, a fireplace or an attached garage, Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill called carbon monoxide “a very serious issue.”

Carbon monoxide is a gas you can’t see, taste, or smell. It is often called “the invisible killer.” It is created when fossil fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, methane, or wood do not burn completely. CO gas can kill people or pets.

“Having these alarms is very, very important,” Stonehill said. “It is the best protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.”

While the alarms would be required for all homes, Stonehill said the biggest impact would be on landlords, who must provide the alarms for their rental units as soon as the ordinance becomes effective. Borough residents who own their homes are eligible for one free alarm from the borough’s fire department.

NFPA recommends installing and maintaining CO alarms outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations as required by laws, codes, or standards. NFPA’s community toolkit on carbon monoxide alarms provides free materials that can be used to encourage the public to take precautions regarding CO.

Council has authorized staff to advertise for the adoption of the ordinance, and a public hearing was set for May.

The Chambersburg Fire Department was awarded NFPA’s Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant in 2014 for its public safety campaign, “The Smoke Alarm is Sounding: Know What to Do,” which included smoke alarm installation, escape planning and fire drills, and the Remembering When™ program.

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Source:: NFPA – Safety Information


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