CO: Stopping a Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) detection is increasingly being mandated by more and more localities, meaning safer buildings and growing opportunities for installing security and fire systems providers. Learn important definitions and monitoring practices.

CSAA desired additional language as to how to query and instruct occupants within a premise than NFPA 720 provided. Section 4.0 covers Supervising Station Procedures. Subsection 4.1 addresses if someone answers the telephone and 4.2 if there is no response. Subsection 4.3 covers if an answering machine or voicemail picks up.

4.0 Supervising Station Procedure: Unless otherwise required by the emergency response agency, upon receipt at the supervising station of a CO alarm signal, with or without restoral signal, the supervising station shall first call the premises and then proceed as shown below.

4.1 If Someone Answers the Telephone:

1)     4.1.1 — The occupants shall be instructed to leave the premises and move to fresh air.

2)     4.1.2 — The supervising station shall ask the following questions to the individual answering the telephone:

a) Are all the occupants accounted for and are they out of the premises?

b) Is anyone nauseous, ill, have a headache or dizzy?

3)     4.1.3 — The supervising station shall instruct the occupants not to re-enter the premises until cleared by the responding fire service.

4)     4.1.4 — The supervising station shall then immediately call the appropriate emergency response agency to inform them of the alarm. The emergency response agency shall be informed that the occupants answered the telephone, were told to leave the premises and of any reported symptoms.

4.2 If No One Answers the Telephone: The supervising station shall then immediately call the appropriate emergency agency and report that a CO alarm was received from a particular premises and were unable to reach an occupant.

4.3 In the case of 4.2, after dispatch the supervising station shall contact the responsible party(s) in accordance with the notification plan.

The requirements for answering machines and voicemail are similar to Sections 4.2 and 4.3.

Avert False Alarms, Bashed Doors

While NFPA 720 has been adopted by most states, CSAA CS-CO-01 has not. As both are endorsed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), they may be viewed as standards of care. Central station operators should check with each AHJ to verify how they want CO signals handled within their respective jurisdictions. The central station should be prepared to provide a copy of the CSAA standard to the AHJ for review and adoption. While most fire departments respond to CO alarms at this time, a number will refer the call to the local natural gas provider.

Where it comes to monitored CO detection systems, particularly residential occupancies, I recommend installing a Knox-Box (knoxbox.com) so responding authorities may gain access to the premise without having to break down a door. These boxes can store keys or access cards for easy emergency entry.

While the present generation of CO detectors are immune to false or unwanted alarms they can still occur from time to time. Proper placement of the detector(s) will help keep them from being subject to nuisa
nce activations. See the sidebar box for examples of the types of locations suitable for CO detection.

Next month, we’ll take a look at more specifics pertaining to CO detector placement.

Shane Clary, Ph.D., has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is Vice President of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pacheco, Calif.-headquartered Bay Alarm Co.

Top Prospects for CO Detection

  • Single-family dwellings
  •  Hotels and motels
  •  Daycare centers
  •  Schools
  •  Nursing homes and hospitals
  •  Parking garages
  •  Assembly occupancies

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