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February 4, 2010

 

State law requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes

Amanda’s Law takes effect Feb. 22

By ANTHONY BORRELLI
Staff Reporter
aborrelli@cortlandstandardnews.net

State legislation going into effect later this month requires that a carbon monoxide detector be installed in all residences.
Known as Amanda’s Law, the legislation takes effect Feb. 22 and is named after 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, Erie County. Hansen died in January 2009 of carbon monoxide poisoning from a defective boiler while sleeping over at a friend’s house.
All existing residential buildings, including one- and two-family dwellings, will have to get a carbon monoxide detector installed, if they do not have one already, said Capt. William Knickerbocker, Cortland’s assistant director of code enforcement.
“It’s going to better protect the residents,” he said.
Residences will have to include a carbon monoxide detector installed on the lowest story that has a sleeping area, according to Amanda’s Law.
Knickerbocker said the city’s rental permit law adopted last year also contained that requirement, so Amanda’s Law expands it.
Once the state law takes effect, local code enforcement officials will be checking to make sure the detectors get installed where they need to be.
“It will just be added on to the routine inspection, and that’s what we’ll be looking for,” Knickerbocker said.
Carbon monoxide is a weightless, invisible gas that can leak from heating systems, Knickerbocker said.
Despite the state’s requirement, preventative measures to avoid potential leaks are preferable to solely depending on a detector, he said.
One of the best things to do, he said, is to make sure heating systems are working properly and regularly checked for any potential malfunctions that could cause a leak.
Knickerbocker does not expect to see a sudden increase in alarms for carbon monoxide leaks once the state law takes effect.
The detectors used today, which cost approximately $35 each, are refined and very accurate, he said.
Jim Norton, of Advantage Heating and Plumbing, said his company puts the detectors in the home whenever installing a furnace. Norton said he often handles calls for carbon monoxide leaks, to make repairs.
One preventative measure to avoid leaks, he said, is to maintain good air flow in the furnace by keeping filters cleaned.
Without proper air flow, heat builds up and something in the furnace can break and lead to a carbon monoxide leak, Norton said. This can occur even with high-efficiency furnaces, he said.
The fire department handles approximately fewer than a dozen carbon monoxide leaks each year, Knickerbocker said.
Amanda’s Law was proposed by state Assemblyman Mark Schroeder and the legislation passed in the Assembly in July. Amanda Hansen lived within Schroeder’s district.

 

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