, Salem, MA

Local News

May 10, 2014

CO detectors could be law for schools, city halls

BOSTON — Massachusetts requires homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors. Soon, they could be mandated in schools and government buildings, as well — a potentially costly level of protection required by only a handful of states.

“Most people assume that these things are already in place in schools and public buildings, but in many they’re not. We should have done this years ago,” said Rep. Paul Brodeur, D-Melrose, who filed an amendment to the 2015 state budget that requires the devices in all public buildings with enclosed parking, furnaces or hot water heaters powered by gas, coal, oil or wood.

Like most other states, Massachusetts requires CO detectors only in homes and residential buildings — but not government buildings or businesses. Brodeur’s amendment, approved by the House, is similar to a bill he filed last year but has been stripped of a provision that would require CO detectors in commercial buildings.

Despite the potential cost to school districts, cities and towns, Brodeur said he hasn’t received any pushback from municipal leaders.

“Honestly, I haven’t heard from a single person suggesting that we not do this,” he said. “But I’m not naive enough to think that doesn’t mean everyone likes the idea.”

A key question for local officials will be whether the state will require the detectors to be hard-wired. Details are still being worked out, and the measure must be approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Few cities and towns north of Boston have hard-wired CO detectors, which transmit a signal to the fire department when an alarm is triggered, mainly due to the cost of retrofitting old structures. The high-tech systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Salem will install hard-wired CO detectors as part of a $2 million City Hall renovation that got underway a few weeks ago, according to a spokesman for Mayor Kim Driscoll.

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