Carbon monoxide detector

On December 12, 2013, Bill 77, Hawkins Gignac Act (Carbon Monoxide Safety), 2013, received Royal Assent making it mandatory that Ontario homes equipped with fuel burning appliances or heating systems, such as gas furnaces, gas and wood burning fireplaces, attached garages and carports to have a carbon monoxide detector.

In December 2008, former OPP officer Laurie Hawkins, her husband Richard and their two children, 14-year-old daughter Cassandra and 12-year-old son Jordan died tragically in their Woodstock home due to a blocked chimney connected to a gas fireplace.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is byproduct of the combustion of propane, natural gas, home heating wood or oil. Carbon monoxide detection is registered in parts per million (PPM). The Occupational Health and Safety Act threshold for CO in businesses is 25 PPM over an eight-hour period; for homes, the limit is just 9 PPM, as people are potentially exposed to CO over a longer period in a residence.

Pursuant to the provisions of the amended Ontario Building Code the new law will require a battery-operated or plug-in detector for homes and apartments built before August 6, 2011. Similar to the requirement for smoke alarms, the legislation will be enforced by local fire departments under the Fire Prevention and Protection Act. Detectors cost $50 or less and dual-purpose alarms detecting CO and smoke are also available for sale.

The fine details of the new law such as the location and quantity of detectors required and applicable fines have yet to be worked out. However, it is recommended to place detectors near the sleeping area to hear it sound. If a CO detector sounds and people in a building or home are experiencing flu-like symptoms – it should be handled like an emergency medical response.

Landlords of residential rental units must comply with the new legislation. It is the landlord’s responsibility to have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to protect tenants in the rental unit.