Maine Legislature to Consider Mandating Hard-Wired CO Detectors

The law would expand the requirement to include all existing structures where people sleep.

AUGUSTA, Maine – A proposal to require hard-wired carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all Maine homes and hotel rooms is headed for the Legislature. The effort follows an incident in which CO sickened 21 guests at an Ogunquit resort in February.

“Out of something bad, we hope that something good comes about,” said John Martell, president of Professional Fire Fighters of Maine, via the Portland Press Herald. “We hope that that type of thing brought the awareness to people that there’s a real danger.”

The president of the state firefighters’ union is working with Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, sponsor of the state’s first CO detector regulations in 2009, to bring forward a new bill this Legislative session, according to the newspaper. 

Current Maine law says all rental units and newly purchased homes – as well as houses, hotels and dormitories built or renovated after Aug. 1, 2012 – are required to have carbon monoxide detectors to warn occupants about dangerous levels of the gas, which is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. Martell told the Portland Press Herald he wants to expand the requirement to all existing structures where people sleep.

“We’ve advocated for this since the inception of the law,” he said.

Martell said the existing regulations represented a compromise with opponents and that several bills to expand the law have been proposed since then, including one last session that would have required carbon monoxide detectors in schools. It never made it out of committee.

Maine law initially focused on rental units and homes that change owners. It was amended in 2011 to include new construction, according to the newspaper.

After the CO leak at The Falls at Ogunquit resort in February, Martell is hoping the incident will provide the motivation for legislators to expand the law to include other existing structures, the newspaper reported.

The resort guests were sickened when the gas leaked from a broken pipe intended to vent fumes from a propane furnace. The leak was discovered after several guests in different rooms reported feeling nauseous, getting headaches and passing out. A desk clerk called the Fire Department, and firefighters found CO levels that were nearly 10 times what would have set off a detector. Seven of the guests were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

The owners did not face sanctions for not equipping the resort with CO detectors because it was built in 1988 and was exempt from the requirement, according to the newspaper.

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