Montana Joins States Requiring CO Detectors


Montana joins a growing list of states requiring carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in apartments, condominiums and other multifamily dwellings on Thursday.

Starting Oct. 1, a state law known as SB 161, sponsored by state Sen. Debby Barrett, requires landlords to outfit their buildings with CO detectors and provide additional disclosures when selling their properties.

Montana integrators tell SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION the law should bring additional business, even if it carries few consequences for landlords who fail to comply.

 “It’s a good start acknowledging that CO is something that should be discussed, but it falls short,” says Mike Nys, director of training and development with Kenco Security and Technology. “It’s kind of toothless in its ability to be enforced.”

CO, a byproduct of gas combustion, is lethal at concentrations of 100 parts per million (ppm). It presents a greater risk in colder-weather states where gas-fired furnaces are more commonplace. In Montana, furnaces use a “fire box” heat generator and forced-air system. A CO leak in the fire box can result in the gas being distributed throughout the house.

Installing CO detectors makes up only about 5 percent of Kenco’s business, but the Billings integrator expects growth in the category. The state law gives the company an opportunity to approach apartment owners and suggest integrated security systems to pull in new clients, says Mark Chaput, Kenco’s CFO.

Chaput says the company will include information about the law in their customer newsletter and educate customers about the advantage of a monitored alarm system over plug-in detectors purchased at the local pharmacy.

The CO detectors, which need to be replaced about every six years, send trouble signals to the central station, if they’re not functioning properly. The devices are chemical detectors and use a built-in waxy substance that’s altered by contact with the gas. It’s akin to changing dirty oil in a vehicle, according to Nys.

Kenco technicians usually mount the detectors higher than five feet in hallways leading to sleeping rooms. Unlike carbon-detection laws in other states such as Minnesota, Montana’s doesn’t include a placement requirement.


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