Council Removes Exception In CO Detector Law

OCEAN CITY — In efforts to make the town’s carbon monoxide (CO) law even more airtight, the City Council voted to remove the lone exception that was in the 2007 bill in a unanimous vote on Tuesday night.

City Solicitor Guy Ayres will remove the lone exception to CO detector law that reads, “dwelling units which are separated from rooms or spaces that are not located within dwelling units where fuel burning equipment is installed or operated or adjacent enclosed parking areas by a complete or continuous smoke barrier.”

According to Mayor Rick Meehan, the removal of that exception originally found in Section 34-204 of the law will make the law easier to enforce and will clear up any questions about whether or not a detector is needed.

“We are basically making a move to protect ourselves down the road,” said Meehan. “What is built today, which might have an airtight room that houses fuel burning equipment, might not be airtight once someone comes in and broaches the room, either by way of retrofitting, or running an additional electrical line into the room.  Once the barrier is altered, the room is no longer airtight.”

Essentially, the removal of the exception will now give the Fire Marshal’s Office a clear cut set of rules to inspect, by basically stating that if a building has fuel burning equipment, it needs a CO detector.

Fire Marshal Sam Villani recommended to the council that the exception be removed last week during his presentation about his future strategies to ensure that Ocean City property owners comply with the town’s proactive law.

“We have found that on the day of the building’s final inspection there could be a smoke tight barrier but as time goes on the building settles leaving cracks or someone installs a wire or pipe or line and it is not fire stopped then the smoke tight barrier is compromised. It was easier to do away with the exception than to guess if an existing building actually had a true smoke tight or smoke barrier,” said Villani. “This was done to speed up the inspection process and again I don’t think there is an actual true smoke tight barrier that lasts forever.”

Ayres said that there was concern amongst some town officials that having any exception in the ordinance could make the law confusing, but noted that the bigger fear was many buildings could have fallen under that exception.

According to Villani’s report last week, only 17 percent of the town’s properties that are required to have CO detectors have notified his office that they have complied.