Carbon monoxide detectors to be required in all Island homes by next year

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The province of P.E.I. could soon require all homes to have carbon monoxide detectors — as part of legislative changes expected to be passed in the spring sitting of the legislature. 

"It's just as necessary to have a carbon monoxide detector as it is to have a smoke alarm," said provincial fire marshal Dave Rossiter. 

The province is currently in the midst of adopting the National Building Code. The code requires all new homes to have the detectors.

Additionally, the Department of Justice and Public Safety is updating its fire codes to require older homes to have them as well.

"That will also make it a requirement for carbon monoxide detection within any type of residential dwelling," said Rossiter.

"We want to make sure Islanders receive the optimum protection from carbon monoxide." 

Issue for Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs is speaking out about the need for detectors after a family of four in Ashcroft, B.C. are believed to have died from the odourless colourless gas.

The association said 50 people in Canada die of carbon monoxide poisoning every year. The gas is produced any time fossil fuels are burned. 

"There is a real need for carbon monoxide detectors in homes, especially with oil burning, wood burning, and anything that heats your home," said Rod MacDonald, president of the P.E.I Firefighters Association. MacDonald also belongs to the National Advisory Council for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.

"I think it's the best thing, it's something that protects the people and the Islanders from this silent killer," he said, adding he doesn't see many detectors in older homes.

MacDonald explained a lot of people confuse carbon monoxide poisoning with the flu, since symptoms such as headaches, nausea and burning eyes can be shrugged off. 

Rossiter said it's been a message fire departments and the his office has been trying to get out for years. 

"There's been a national push for more carbon monoxide regulation," he said.

"When it comes to adopting legislation and updating code, those things just don't happen over night."

People will have to follow through

MacDonald said it will be up to people to buy the detectors, which he said usually start at around $25 each. 

He said he still sees homes that don't have smoke detectors so he worries about whether will buy the the carbon monoxide detectors. 

"It still has to depend on the home owner for actually purchasing the detector and putting it in their house, " said MacDonald.

Rossiter added even if legislative changes are passed, his office has a limited ability to enforce them.

"We'll only be really enforcing what's out there as far as rental properties, like apartments, those types of things." said Rossiter.

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