CO law closely examined

Thursday, January 1, 2009

WASHINGTON--A proposed federal law would impose stricter standards on CO detectors and would affect “manufacturers, dealers and distributors,” according to Richard Roberts, industry affairs manager for System Sensor.

Called the “Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act,” S.3660 is sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who has promoted the bill in a series of press conferences and media appearances before the holidays.

“I think it’s a good start,” Roberts said. “According to the Senator, when Congress reconvenes next year, they’ll take the issue up again. It definitely has some good stuff in it. It encourages and promotes the purchase and installation of CO detectors and authorizes a grant program that would train fire code enforcement officials on the installation of detectors.”

Roberts does have some concerns about the bill, however. Currently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has voluntary standards for CO detectors set by Underwriters Laboratories. This legislation would make those UL standards mandatory for all CO detectors sold in the United States. This raises questions about certification requirements that could be burdensome to manufacturers, distributors and dealers.

National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association lobbyist John Chwat said the bill is “on our radar for next year,” and noted it’s departure: “it’s an all-encompassing federal approach to [standards governing CO detection mandates] from a consumer-protection point of view.” In addition, activity on this issue has been confined to state legislatures until now. Roberts said System Sensor will work with industry trade associations to “build a coalition and go in and meet with the Senator early next year to iron out issues we may have.”