IAFF Local 925
Smoke and CO Detectors
Updated On: May 03, 2007

Smoke Detectors:  Install smoke detectors on every floor in your home and outside every sleeping area.  Make sure to keep detectors dust free.  Replace the batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.  Test your smoke detectors at least once a month to make sure they work. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the Invisible Killer, is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results from incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal, and gasoline.  Each year many people die from accidental CO poisoning and thousands more are injured.

Anyone who owns residential property regardless of size (i.e., 1 &  2-family homes, multi-family buildings, apartments, condominiums and townhouses, etc.) that contain fossil burning fuel equipment (i.e., oil, gas, wood, coal, etc.) OR contains enclosed parking (i.e., attached or enclosed garage) in Massachusetts, is required to install CO alarms by March 31, 2006.  Owners of residential buildings that notify the local fire department and choose the alternative compliance option and buildings owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (i.e., public housing units) will not be required to install CO alarms until January 1st, 2007.

In most residences, carbon monoxide alarms are required to be located on every level of a home or dwelling unit including habitable portions of basements and attics.  On levels with sleeping areas the alarms must be placed within ten feet of the bedroom doors.  CO alarms do not go inside garages, but in the adjacent living areas. 

Carbon Monoxide mixes evenly in air, so detectors can be mounted at any height, but it is recommended they be mounted between knee and chest height (sleeping height).  Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, drapes or other obstructions.  If you have a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector, mount it on the ceiling where smoke will reach it.  Always consult the manufacturers instructions regarding proper use, care and installation.

Landlords must install CO alarms in each dwelling unit.  Landlords must also inspect, test and maintain the CO alarms at least once a year or at the beginning of any rental period (such as lease renewal).  Batteries are required to be replaced once a year.  Tenants should report any problems with the alarms to the landlord immediately and learn to recognize the difference between the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide alarm.  Anyone who sells their property after March 31, 2006 will be required to have an inspection by the fire department prior to the sale or transfer of their property.


     Effective March 31, 2006, every residential structure and dwelling unit with Fossil Fuel Burning equipment, (fueled by natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal or corn) OR if it has enclosed parking shall be equipped with working and listed Carbon Monoxide Protection.
            UL listed detector.
            Battery unit with low battery indicator.
            AC powered plug in unit with battery back up.
            AC hardwired unit with battery back up.
            Approved Low Voltage or Wireless detectors.
            Approved Combination Smoke/CO detector; they must have a distinguishable alarm tone
            for each and VOICE for the CO activation.
NOTE: Detectors must be photoelectric type if located within 20’ from Kitchen or Bathroom.
            One detector on each level of habitation including habitable basements and attics.
On the sleeping level the detector shall be located in IMMEDIATE VICINITY NOT to exceed 10’ from any bedroom door. Install detectors according to Manufacturer’s instructions.
            This may be more practical for LARGE buildings with limited or NO Fossil fuel burning equipment in each dwelling unit.
What is required under the Alternative Option?
1.       CO protection in all central fossil fuel burning equipment rooms and their adjacent spaces. CO protection is also required in adjacent areas of enclosed parking.
2.       Detection shall be AC powered with Battery backup or low voltage systems. They shall be monitored to a constantly attended location and RETRANSMITTED to the Fire Department.
3.       Any dwelling unit with Fossil fuel burning equipment must meet the above requirements of the previous section. (WHAT IS LISTED PROTECTION?)
4.       If using the Alternative Option, the owner shall provide written notification to the Head of the Fire Department of the intent to install by January 1, 2007. Upon completion of the installation, the owner shall contact the Fire Prevention Office for an inspection no later than January 1, 2007
Landlord Responsibilities
1.       Must at a MINIMUM maintain, test, repair, or replace every CO detector upon RENEWAL of lease OR on an annual basis which ever is more frequent.
2.       Batteries are to be replaced annually.
The Health Department will be reviewing compliance with CO detector requirements upon inspection of rental housing either upon occupant request or in conjunction with “Certificate of Occupancy” inspections. The Health Department will refer reports of potential non-compliance to the Fire Department.

For more info on CO safety, visit the Mass. Department of Fire Services website by clicking here

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