A contrarian's view on CO detection

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

There has recently been discussion of the new market for monitored carbon monoxide detectors. A dangerous gas that can both harm homeowners and be a harbinger of fire, carbon monoxide can now be monitored through a fire panel, thanks to products by the likes of SimplexGrinnell and System Sensor.
System Sensor product manager for the security business unit Richard Roberts went so far in a recent interview with Security Systems News as to compare the CO-detection market with the smoke detector market of the late '70s and early '80s. "Given another five to 10 years, we fully expect that it will be right up there with smoke detection," he said.
However, DMP product architect Mark Hillenburg wondered if monitored CO detection might be a "bad idea."
"Say you have a monitored CO sensor," he postulated, "where the panel communicates to the central. The sensor goes off and the first thing they do is call your house. No one answers. Well, that's the worst-case scenario, so they dispatch the fire department, and they pound on the door and no one answers so they chop your door down, get inside, and find out everyone's on vacation." Unlike with fire or smoke, there's no way for the fire department to know whether there might be imminent danger or a need to enter a house.
"But," said Hillenburg, "if you just get a CO detector at Wal-Mart, then a siren goes off in the home, which would get people out of the house and maybe even alert a neighbor. It's kind of the contrarian's view point, but I think it's a better way to solve the problem."