Montgomery Co. expands carbon monoxide detector rule for homes

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Council has voted to expand the types of homes that must have carbon monoxide detectors installed.

The change means existing homes — those that had building permits issued before January 2008 — have to be equipped with detectors under two conditions: if they have a gas-operated appliance or if they have an attached garage.

The county already has a law requiring that newly constructed homes have the devices, which alert residents to the presence of the potentially deadly gas. In addition, there’s already a state law that requires carbon monoxide detectors in connected town homes, but Montgomery County council member Craig Rice said the new regulation includes two-unit homes as well as single-family houses. State law already requires the devices for multifamily dwellings.

In February, a 61-year-old Kensington man died after being exposed to carbon monoxide in a home under renovation. Another person died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Rockville in May. Firefighters reported a high level of carbon monoxide in the home and found a generator had been used indoors.

In Montgomery County, local fire departments often distribute and install smoke alarms in homes where residents don’t have them or can’t afford them. Similar programs are being worked on for homes where carbon monoxide detectors haven’t been installed, Rice said.

“We are ramping up that program now that this law has passed,” he said.

Rice added that a public education campaign will be launched “to make sure that folks understand the new law, what the requirements are, and how they can go about getting them if they can’t afford them.”

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