Understanding Carbon Monoxide Laws Codes and Standards
Choosing the right products to effectively serve the needs of the client
- By Ginger Hill
- Apr 01, 2015
It’s known as the “silent killer,” a poisonous, colorless, odorless, tasteless
gas that moves through the air and when breathed, it displaces
oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs
of oxygen, ultimately causing the loss of consciousness and suffocation.
In the United States alone, this invisible intruder, carbon monoxide
(CO), is responsible for sending thousands of people to the emergency
room each year with CO poisoning, some resulting in death.
Due to this serious public health concern, many state legislatures have
begun and continue to adopt various laws that mandate the use of carbon
monoxide detectors in addition to fire codes and standards. Therefore, security
dealers and integrators dealing with fire, smoke and CO in the United
States must know each state’s laws regarding CO as well as the National
Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) and UL codes and standards to be
able to choose the best products on the market that adhere to all requirements
and ensure overall compliance.
As of January 2015, there are 29 states that have laws regarding carbon
monoxide detectors in various commercial and residential situations. For example,
Illinois requires a CO detector within 15 feet of every sleeping room,
while Massachusetts and Minnesota require them within 10 feet. States such
as Delaware, Maryland and Virginia have laws prohibiting the tampering of
detectors installed by landlords whereas Tennessee requires CO detectors in
rented or leased recreational vehicles. Even more, Texas requires a CO detector
in day care centers; Montana requires them in rental units; and Wisconsin
requires them in public buildings in which people sleep.
With such variance between each state’s CO laws, it is the dealer’s responsibility
to be knowledgeable so that customers get properly educated
not only regarding carbon monoxide and poisoning, smoke and fire safety
but as to what products will efficiently and effectively serve their needs.
Taking a Look at NFPA
Fire codes and standards have a deep-rooted history, beginning in 1896 when
a small group of concerned professionals met in Boston to address the nine
different standards for piping size and sprinkler spacing of fire sprinkler systems.
Working together, this group created a standard for the uniform installation
of sprinkler systems. Thus, the National Fire Protection Association,
an advocate of fire prevention and public safety, was established, and since
then develops, publishes and distributes more than 300 codes and standards
intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.
These standards and codes are created with the help of more than 250
technical committees, totaling approximately 8,000 volunteers who participate
in the NFPA’s standards development process, a “full, open, consensusbased
process,” meaning that anyone can participate, and will be treated
fairly and equally. In fact, public participation is encouraged, and all standards
are revised and updated every three to five years.
Issuance or revision of an NFPA standard is a process containing the
following four basic steps:
Step 1: Input Stage
Public input is considered before the writing of the first draft of the new
standard or standard revision; after which, the text of the standard is put
onto a ballot for approval by the committee. Once approved, the first draft
is posted on the NFPA website.
Step 2: Comment Stage
Once the first draft is posted, it is open for public comment in which all
comments are reviewed and taken into consideration. A second draft is
created and put onto a ballot for committee approval. Once approved, the
second draft is posted on the NFPA website.
If no comments are made, the standard is sent directly to be issued.
Step 3: NFPA Technical Meeting
Anyone who is not satisfied with the second draft can submit a “Notice
of Intent to Make a Motion” (NITMAM), indicating an attempt to change
the second draft of the standard. This second draft is taken to the NFPA
Conference and Expo each June for further debate, discussion and consideration.
A majority vote is taken for all changes to be approved.
Standards with no NITMAM move directly to the final step for approval
Step 4: Council App eals and Issuance of Standard
All appeals must be heard before the final issuance of a standard. After
all appeals have been decided and the council deems the standard to be
aligned with NFPA beliefs, the standard is issued.
Dealers who have a basic understanding of the NFPA, their standards
and codes as well as how they are developed and revised can volunteer their
knowledge gained from hands-on, field experience to enhance and improve
these codes and standards. This is an additional way for dealers to position
themselves ahead of their competition.
The Importance of UL Certification
In addition to NFPA, as a way for manufacturers to set the safety of their
products apart from their competitors’, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), an
independent, not-for-profit, nongovernmental compliance-testing laboratory,
has been analyzing field data and conducting live experiments with
products from various manufacturers for over a century. Specific to fire
safety, UL’s goals are to help prevent fires, injury and loss of life as well as
minimize property damage, all of which can be done with UL-certified,
fire-specific safety products.
Their testing process is rigorous
for those who seek to have their
products marked with the official
UL-listed logo, the Mark; however,
some municipalities have laws,
codes or regulations that require a
product to be tested by a nationallyrecognized
testing laboratory before
it can be sold in their jurisdiction.
The following steps outline the
Request Quote Form
Because product manufacturers are
responsible for all fees incurred with
the UL certification, this form will
act as a guide identifying the specific
information needed for a quote.
Quote for Services
A UL associate will send the product
manufacturer a quote for services
that includes project pricing
based on standard assumptions.
Step 3: Confirmation
Once the manufacturer accepts the
quote, an UL engineer will be in
contact to confirm needs, discuss
the scope of the project and review
other important details which
could include test planning, sample
requirements and production dates.
Once UL receives the product
manufacturer’s signed application
forms, agreements, preliminary
deposit, required testing samples
and technical information, UL engineering
staff begins the actual investigation
of the product.
Step 5: Meeting UL
After a thorough testing procedure,
UL will inform the product manufacturer
if their product complies
with UL’s requirements by developing
a formal report, the Follow-up
Procedure document. This document
describes the construction of
the product and will serve as the
guide when conducing periodic
examinations of UL-certified products
in the manufacturer’s facility.
A Viable Manufacturer
Perhaps most valuable is the component
of education in building a
trusted partnership between dealers
and manufacturers. As dealers
receive training on products directly
from the manufacturer, they
are better equipped to educate the
end-user and provide exactly what
customers want and need.
Wading through laws, codes
and standards can be a timeconsuming
process for dealers;
however, it can prove to be extremely
valuable. The more dealers
know and understand, the better
equipped they are in their chosen
verticals. A knowledgeable dealer
who is willing to take the time to
educate their customers not only
demonstrates competence but a
willingness to go above and beyond
for their clients.
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.