Click here for the LAFD entry level Firefighter Job Bulletin

Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Safe, Affordable and Now...The Law!

Friday, July 01, 2011 |

That's right, the Los Angeles Fire Department has often warned of the dangers of "the silent killer", Carbon Monoxide (CO).

Now, we are here to tell you that as of July 1, 2011, the State of California requires Carbon Monoxide detectors in most single family homes - and soon in every residence. This new law is to be enforced by the City of Los Angeles, Housing Department.

Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in America, claiming more than 400 lives each year. CO is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that can lead to brain damage and even death. CO is produced whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned - and can be produced by common household appliances. Sources of CO poisoning can include:

· Gas water heaters
· Home heating systems
· Kerosene space heaters
· Grills, hibachis or portable gas camp stoves
· Idling motor vehicles
· Cigarette smoke
· Propane-fueled forklifts
· Gas-powered concrete saws
· Indoor tractor pulls
· Swimming behind a motorboat
· Spray paint, solvents, degreasers, and paint removers
· Portable Generators

It is not uncommon for your firefighters to respond to accidents that involve CO poisoning during the winter months, as people often burn various fuels and use appliances as a source of heat. However, we often respond to these accidents during the summer months as well.

There is some good news...these accidents are preventable. Please take the necessary steps to ensure proper ventilation around any appliance that may generate this toxic gas, use a little common sense and get your CO detectors today. Remember, once installed, these alarms should be tested monthly, just as with your (already installed) smoke alarms. It is important to note, these do not replace your traditional smoke alarms! There are, however, some units available that will serve a dual function and provide protection against both.

Carbon Monoxide detectors are affordable, widely available at most home improvement/hardware stores and now... in California they are required by law!



For more information and some helpful tips on preventing the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, read a previous post on our blog: "Carbon Monoxide, the 'Silent Killer".

Submitted by Matt Spence, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. 400 deaths a year! Nationally! And the number quoted in California is 30 to 40 deaths a year.

What special interest group pushed this garbage through the legislature?

Let's see, there are approximately 35 million people in California; average 4 people per household; say 60% live in single-family homes. That is over 5.25 million homes. Say one-third of those are two-story requiring one sensor per floor -- that is 7 million detectors. At an average cost of $50 per detector, that is $350 million.

I can think of no other cause of death that has a lower yearly mortality rate than carbon monoxide poisoning. Yet in these hard economic times, the legislature is going to force Californians to shell out $350 million to save 30 to 40 lives per year. Moreover, that does not even count dorms, condos, and all the rest that were given a reprieve. Wonder how many of those deaths occur in dorms, condos and all those other non-single family dwellings?

No wonder this State is broke! Pardon me, but I have to call my Broker and tell him to invest heavily in companies making carbon monoxide detectors.

Eshel said...

are CO detectors required in every room in each home or is one CO detector adequate?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:42,

Thanks for visiting the LAFD News & Information blog, and politely yet passionately sharing your personal opinion on this matter.

Members of your LAFD know firsthand the danger of Carbon Monoxide (CO), and we have yet to meet a responder who did not have a detector in their home or see a compelling need for same.

Regardless of our personal opinions regarding what is now law in California, we believe every American has a need to know the danger of CO - as well as applicable laws, when they seek to make informed choice of the tools they can use in an quest to be safe.

Again, thanks for taking the time to share your personal viewpoint.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Eshel,

Thanks for the note. The new California law expressly mentions:

17926. (b) With respect to the number and placement of carbon monoxide devices, an owner shall install the devices in a manner consistent with building standards applicable to new construction for the relevant type of occupancy or with the manufacturer’s instructions, if it is technically feasible to do so.

While we are currently guiding residents of 'single family homes' in Los Angeles to the City's Department of Building and Safety, and those living in 'multi-occupant dwellings' to the City's Housing Department for such non-Fire Department ("Building Code" not "Fire Code") issues, things may indeed be different in your community.

As such, and while awaiting a local interpretation for the letter of the law applicable to your community, we encourage every Californian to promptly install, test and maintain *at least* one Carbon Monoxide detector in their residence.

We hope this information helps.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

Is there a local or statewide program where seniors can receive a discounted or free detector?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 11:13,

Though we are not familiar with such a program in Los Angeles, we strongly suggest contacting senior service agencies in your community, State or province to determine if such a program or project is available in your area.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Excerpt from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Q: How many people are unintentionally poisoned by CO?

A: On average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. These products include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas. In 2005 alone, CPSC staff is aware of at least 94 generator-related CO poisoning deaths. Forty-seven of these deaths were known to have occurred during power outages due to severe weather, including Hurricane Katrina. Still others die from CO produced by non-consumer products, such as cars left running in attached garages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms every year to be treated for CO poisoning.

Anonymous said...

Brian will you answer the room question. Every room or not? You wrote a bunch a nonsense without answering the question.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 10:37,

Thanks for the note, and for patiently awaiting a reply while I was away. My sincerest apology if the earlier reply was hard to interpret.

In short...

As members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, we understand your need for a legally binding [emphasis] answer for questions regarding installation of carbon monoxide alarms.

As this matter *in the City of Los Angeles* is currently within the exclusive domain of the City's Department of Building and Safety as well as the Housing Department, it is those agencies to whom Angelenos must (currently) turn to for official information of what is "legally required".

Those living in other areas must turn to their local regulatory agencies (most often Building and Safety agencies) for specifics that are applicable to their community.

As background to others...

It is of key importance to note that the earlier question was what is required [to be in 'local' compliance with a State Law], vs. what we might suggest.

If we were to merely offer a suggestion [emphasis added], it would probably be to install, test and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in every room of your home - but even that may not meet the specifics of what is "locally required" - and that was indeed the question.

Please understand that my reply to Eshel (see above) - whose hometown and size/type/design of residence was unstated, was merely to offer the California law (quoted verbatim) and to suggest *at least* one carbon monoxide alarm be installed promptly, while s/he contacts local authorities to know what compliance is mandated in his/her particular City or County. I considered it the most prudent response then, and stand by that assertion - given the information at hand. I am sorry if anyone considered that to be unresponsive.

Indeed the interpretation and enforcement of this new law is taking a different track in many of California's 58 counties, and we would be profoundly remiss if told someone in Salinas, Sacramento or Sunnyvale how to be compliant with their local enforcement of the State Law that is just now coming before local regulatory agencies across The Golden State.

Anonymous 10:37, if you still need assistance in contacting the responsible agencies in your California community, please let me know, and I will be happy to identify and connect you with them at my earliest opportunity. You can find my email contact information here.

I hope this information helps.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

What is the standard required for a detector? I just bought a reputable brand off of Amazon, which I received the unit today. The packaging says the unit meets 2003 standards. Are there newer standards? That's 9 years old, so just checking. How do I know that I have a unit that it up to current standards?
Thanks so much.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 8:57,

Thanks for the question (and your follow-up answer), which we are pleased to offer below...

For a recent roster of California State Fire Marshal Approved Carbon Monoxide Alarms, please click here

We hope this information will help you and others who seek to remain safe from the menace of Carbon Monoxide.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

How does this law relate to CO detectors for commercial buildings with parking garages or warehouse facilities?

Anonymous said...

I have just been informed of the carbon monoxide alarm requirement in order to refinance my home per Fannie Mae(?).
I live in the city of Los Angeles (Eagle Rock). What is the requirement - all rooms - bed rooms - or "at least one"?

Thanks for your attention...

Don Krotser

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Mr.Krotser,

Thanks for your note regarding a perennial question within and beyond the City of Los Angeles.

While we were pleased to share the safety awareness message above, the formal regulations guiding the placement of Carbon Monixide Alarms sdo not fall within the Fire Code (the only Municipal Laws that your LAFD can interpret and enforce), but rather are a Building and Safety Code matter typically interpreted and enforced in local single family homes by the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS).

You can reach LADBS from within the City by calling City Hall at 3-1-1 or (213) 473-3231.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

Brian,
Why does the city impose an obligation for the PROPERTY OWNER to install, test, and maintain CO alarms. These devices are expensive to maintain-they need annual tests, record keeping,and battery renewals,and REPLACEMENT after just a few years, and they are EASILY DAMAGED AND RENDERED INOPERATIVE BY CERTAIN CHEMICAL FUMES (paint, nailpolish fluids, solvents, etc) introduced into the environment by the actions of TENANTS.

Why not require TENANTS/occupants to purchase and install
a device of their own choosing, (present the bill to their landlord to verify compliance,) and periodically test and maintain their own unit, all without requiring the landlord to enter into their premises.

These devices represent significant cost burden to rental property owners, and their lifesaving efficacy prevails only when the USER acts responsibly. Tenants have been known to disconnect alarms, and to use the betteries for other purposes, and generally do not care about cleaning the units or avoiding contamination with damaging vapors. Placing such burden on a landlord is unfair, opens the door to major legal issues following a tragedy, and, when one considers the very small number of CO incidents in our community, and the total cost of these devices (installation, maintenance, r3ecford keeping, replacement after 5-7 yrs) is very burdfensome. Where is personal responsibility ? How many CO issues result annually in L.A., and how many tragedies would you expect to avoid, each year, with these alarms? ASnd how should the cost be covered? (Who pays?)
Shouldn't we also provide pot holders to our tenants? or fine them for smoking in bed? or overloading electric circuits?

You folks in the fire department have installed your own devices in your own homes,at your expense. Why ought we not not ask our tenants to do the same

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 11;16,

Thanks for visiting the LAFD News & Information blog, and for your note. Having read the comments above, we trust you understand what we offer here is in the interest of life safety and public awareness of the recently enacted California State Law.

While the LAFD is pleased to share Carbon Monoxide safety and regulation awareness via this blog, we must emphasize that City of Los Angeles enforcement of this particular State Law is *not* a Fire Department matter, but rather an issue assigned to the Department of Building & Safety (for single family homes) and Housing Department (for rental properties of two or more units).

That much offered...

While we don't profess to be legal scholars, a cursory look at the full text of the State Law seems to indicate that the "property owner" is mentioned repeatedly in the statute as being the responsible party.

As such (even if our agency were somehow involved), it seems unlikely the enforcing entity could unilaterally choose to change codified law.

While we sense your frustration, as a Fire Department (or any City agency), we cannot offer you what would need to be California State [emphasis] legislative relief.

In closing, we encourage you to pursue collective support for your personal concern among other landlords, and to consult with legal counsel to determine your best path forward in approaching State level government to seek possible changes in existing law that do not needlessly imperil Californians from the danger of Carbon Monoxide in a residential setting.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Patty Padilla said...

Hello Mr. Firefighter, my only question is does the detector need to be "hardwired" or can it be battery operated only? Please advise thank you.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Ms. Paddilla,

Thanks for the note. You deserve an official and binding answer of your question - and we'll do our best to guide you to an authoritative source.

We sadly weren't able to determine from your message, the location of your property so as to best direct your inquiry.

Enforcement of this California State Law within the City of Los Angeles was not assigned to our agency. As such, this law is NOT part of our Fire Code (the only 'book of rules' that your LAFD can interpret or enforce). Were this statute in the Fire Code, we'd be happy to cite you chapter and verse. Sadly, it is not.

Within the City Of Los Angeles, the municipal agency that can provide you with a legal and binding answer is the City's Department of Building & Safety. You can visit this agency on-line at ladbs.org and contacgt them within City limits by calling 3-1-1.

If you live outside the City of Los Angeles, your local or regional government "building and safety agency" is likely the best place to start.

We hope this information helps.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if earlier comments were posted.

In a small one-bedroom apartment, where would I place the CO detector. The Living room is 10' x 12' and has the wall heater in it. The CO detector has to be 15' from heat source, 3' from outside wall and 3' from bedroom door. Please advise me where I can place the CO detector. Thanks

Post a Comment

Comments to this blog are approved or disapproved without editing.

We seek to offer a broad cross-section of *public* thoughts that are specific to the topic at hand and genuinely polite in tone - regardless of opinion.

Kindly post your comments below.