Council Discusses Carbon Monoxide Code
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that can be toxic to humans upon exposure. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills approximately 500 people in the United States and sends another 20,000 to the hospital each year, according to UL, a global independent safety science company that certifies home products.
Section C, chapter 29.33.06 of the city’s code states that “all multi-family dwellings and rooming houses must be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector by Jan. 1, 2012. The carbon monoxide detector shall be ‘UL’ listed and equipped with an LED readout indicating parts per million of carbon monoxide gas for continuing monitoring, and shall contain a battery backup.”
The code mandates that at least one CO detector be installed in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping area, and that detectors be replaced every five years or per the manufacturer;s recommendation.
The ordinance passed by council amended the code to include the words “AC powered” in the CO detector regulations. Council member Christine Fahl said that residents and landlords were having difficulty interpreting the current language of the code because of the previous omission.
“The backup battery seemed it implied AC powered, but it wasn’t specific so we’d like to clean the language up,” Fahl said.
AC powered simply means that the detector will be powered by the city’s electricity, rather than by battery alone. The detectors will still be required to have a battery backup.
Jim Sands, currently acting mayor, said that he was asked by the city’s fire chief to bring this issue forward in light of an incident that occurred over the weekend.
He told council that fire fighters and members of the code department were dispatched to a home Saturday evening regarding a carbon monoxide leak. The home’s hot water heater was apparently not functioning correctly and was emitting carbon monoxide, triggering the alarm on the CO detectors installed in the home, according to Sands.
Sands said that that detector registered a CO level of 450 parts per million, saying that this was a very deadly level and “had these people gone to sleep, they probably would not have awakened.”
“This is an important installation,” Sands said. “We’re sure it has saved lives already.”