CO detectors more than a good idea

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2004

An ongoing home fire-safety improvement project on the Kenai Peninsula may help some homeowners ready themselves to comply with a new state law that goes into effect Jan. 1.

As the new year begins, all homes in the state will be required to have carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms installed if the home has a carbon-based fuel appliance such as a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, oven or clothes dryer, or if the home has an attached garage.

Earlier this year, the Kenai and Nikiski fire departments and Central Emergency Services began fire-safety projects that provide free carbon-monoxide detectors as well as other safety devices to homeowners who sign up for home fire inspections.

The new law requires single family houses, duplexes, apartments, dormitories and group homes to have carbon monoxide detectors, according to CES Fire Marshal Gary Hale.

Hale said the requirement extends to lodges, bed and breakfasts and similar accommodations in which people spend time.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuel in appliances or engines.

Examples of carbon-based fuels are wood, coal, natural gas, kerosene, propane, gasoline, diesel oil, charcoal, stove oil and waste oil.

In a press release issued by the Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office, giving carbon monoxide alarms as holiday gifts is suggested as a way to show family and friends that people care about their safety.

In addition to CO detectors, the central Kenai Peninsula fire departments are offering smoke alarms, surge protectors, fire extinguishers, fire escape ladders and other safety devices to people whose homes are found to be lacking such appliances during a fire safety inspection.

"We won't be citing people for violations," said Hale.

"The visits are strictly informational, educational," he said.

Nikiski assistant fire chief Warren Isham concurred.

"So far, everybody that's signed up for the program has asked us to come into their homes and do the inspections. They're strictly educational," Isham said.

"We'll do the inspections any day at almost any time to fit people's schedules.

"In fact, most of the inspections we've done have been in the evening because people work during the day," he said.

Kenai Fire Marshal James Baisden said people simply need to come to the fire station to fill out an application for the inspection.

"There are certain requirements they have to meet — have elderly people in the home or have children in the family," Baisden said.

CES and Nikiski have prioritized those types of families, but do not require that the homeowners be elderly or have children living in the home.

"We just want to know that we're doing as much as we can to inform people about how to prevent fires," Hale said.

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