New Legislation Prompts Carbon Monoxide Alarms

As a result of new legislation, the Public Safety Office and the Occupational & Environmental Safety Office has begun to work with the Andover Fire Department to install 600 Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms on campus. According to Director of Public Safety Thomas Conlon, the Academy decided to install the CO alarms after Governor Romney signed a recent law entitled “Nicole’s Bill.” The law was formed after a seven-year-old girl died as a result of CO poisoning in her home. The law went into effect March 31, 2006 and requires that every dwelling building or structure in the state of Massachusetts “occupied in whole or part for residential purposes and that contain fossil fuel burning equipment or incorporate closed parking within its structure, be equipped by the owner with approved CO alarms in conformance with the requirements of the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations.” According to Mr. Conlon, the first priority for alarm installation will be all dormitories, including faculty apartments, followed by free-standing faculty homes. Approximately 600 CO alarms will be installed. There will be one CO alarm within 10 feet of each dorm room door in the hallway of a dorm. Last winter, more than 2,700 CO related incidents were reported to the Massachusetts Office of the State Fire Marshal. Across the United States, approximately 200 people die of CO poisoning annually. Currently Massachusetts is one of three states that require carbon monoxide alarms; the other two are New Jersey and Alaska. In addition, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois and Ohio require CO alarms, although not in the entirety of their states. There are many activist groups pushing for a nation-wide requirement for these alarms. Carbon Monoxide, also known as carbonic oxide and coal gas, is one of the most dangerous gasses to humans. Inhalation causes oxygen deprivation, and even a relatively small amount can lead to neurological damage, or possible death. It is especially dangerous because it is not easily detected by humans; it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It is also a major industrial gas used in bulk chemicals manufacturing, including the production of methanol. It is emitted from bush fires and out of the carburetors of cars. Installation of the carbon monoxide alarms will begin the week of April 17 and proceed until completed.