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Catching carbon monoxide

More detectors needed to meet revised regulation

February 7, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Soon, residences must have carbon monoxide detectors installed as part of a revised regulation signed into law after a young girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning at her friend's house.

The law, called "Amanda's Law" for a Seneca Falls teenager who died of carbon monoxide poisoning during a sleepover, requires carbon monoxide detectors be placed in any dwelling where there are appliances that create carbon monoxide or have an attached garage. It goes into effect Feb. 22.

Fulton County Fire Coordinator Allan Polmateer said the law actually was created in 2002 and, at that time, required detectors to be placed in hotels, dorms and all newly built residences. Now, a final loophole is being closed and everyone will be required to have them, he said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Michael Boucher, a manager at the Noble Ace Hardware in Johnstown, holds a digital carbon monoxide detector at the store for sale on Thursday.

"Usually we get a couple calls a month throughout the county for carbon monoxide," he said. "I think it's a good idea. It's a silent killer."

During apartment and home code inspections, local fire departments will check for the devices, Johnstown Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said. He said he hopes firefighters will not have to issue warnings or tickets to homeowners to install the devices and wants to portray the law as a positive safety measure.

"It's a safety issue. We're educators first so if we have to enforce it with someone who's being obstinate, we will, but we want people to see it as a good thing," he said. "They do save lives."

Heberer said the department will stress volunteer compliance with the law.

"We don't want to go out and ticket a thousand people," he said. "Not only should you want to [install a detector], but now you have to."

At Noble Ace Hardware in Johnstown, assistant manager Duane Phillips said the store sells the detectors every day. He said many people have installed them voluntarily. Some may not even be aware of the law, he said.

The store carries all different types of alarms, from battery powered ones to plug-in devices to alarms that also have a natural gas detector, he said. They range in price from $20 to around $60.

"We sell them all the time," he said. "If someone is concerned about natural gas we have ones that detect that too."

Phillips said if someone elects to buy the battery-powered model, it's important to check the battery each year. Once it starts to run out, it will let you know by beeping repeatedly until the problem's addressed, he said.

At the Estee Commons apartments in Gloversville, building superintendent Frank Fosmire said the alarms were hardwired into the building when it was renovated. They also have back-up battery power that will run if the power goes out, he said.

He said the alarms, as well as smoke alarms, are in every one of the 39 apartments and also in the common lounge areas.

"We're pretty much covered," he said.

Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger said the Campus View apartments managed by the college do not have carbon monoxide alarms but will have them installed by the time the law goes into effect.

Swanger said he personally feels the law is "over legislation." He noted the lack of carbon monoxide incidents at dorm facilities.

"I've never read of a major catastrophe where students [in a dorm] have been overcome by carbon monoxide," he said.

According to the law, the detectors must be installed within 15 feet of the entrance of each bedroom in a home. Apartment building owners are required to install them in all their tenant's dwellings but the tenant must reimburse the apartment owner $25 for the detector by the end of the year. If an apartment is unoccupied, it must still have a detector installed. Only homes that have no devices that create carbon monoxide are exempt from the law.

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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