Understanding Carbon Monoxide Laws Codes and Standards

Understanding Carbon Monoxide Laws Codes and Standards

Choosing the right products to effectively serve the needs of the client

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 and issuance.

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 submittal process:

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: 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.

Step 4: Product Evaluation

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 Requirements

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.


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