Carbon Monoxide is a silent and deadly killer. Odourless, colourless, it can kill entire families overnight. Where does carbon monoxide in homes typically come from? From fuel burning appliances such as a gas furnace, ovens, or stoves. It can enter the home from the garage from running vehicles, from blocked chimneys (think nests) or from other appliances due to failure. See the illustration for more sources. Given that the gas is silent, colourless, and odourless, it is very dangerous, particularly to people who are sleeping in the home.
Perhaps you are aware, or have heard of deaths in Ontario caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Most notorious is the story of Hawkins and Gignac. Ms. Hawkins was an OPP officer and she and her husband and two children died in an accidental exposure to carbon monoxide in their own home. This was a normal family, living normally, and tragically, they died.
In response to the tragedy (five years ago) and the risk that accidental carbon monoxide exposure presents to all Ontarians, the Ontario government, along with the unanimous approval of all the opposition parties, has now passed Bill 77, the Hawkins Gignac Act 2013. So what does this law require? In short, it requires that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in residential buildings which includes buildings in which rental units are located.
Given the context of this article in a blog on Ontario Landlord and Tenant Law, I'm trying to make the point to tenants that they have the legal right to demand a carbon monoxide detector and to landlords that they have an obligation to provide tenants with a carbon monoxide detector. The failure to provide these devices will be a contravention of law and charges and fines can be forthcoming for failure to comply and it will be a basis of liability in a civil context (i.e. you can get sued and be ordered to pay money) if someone is injured as a result of carbon monoxide exposure that would not have happened but for the failure to provide the carbon monoxide detector.
Are the requirements of this law exactly the same as providing a smoke detector in a unit? The short answer is an unequivocal "no". The law requires that carbon monoxide detectors be hardwired into the electrical system, that there be no disconnect switch, and that if one detector is triggered that all of the detectors in premises also go off at the same time. It appears, from my reading of the law, that buying a carbon monoxide detector from any of the big box stores and plugging it into the wall is NOT going to discharge the obligation imposed under the law. That being said, does every apartment in a rental complex require the installation of a carbon monoxide detector--hardwired into the electrical system. It seems that if the rental unit has an appliance that can generate carbon monoxide then the answer is yes. If the rental unit does not have an appliance that can generate carbon monoxide but it has a storage garage then "yes" as well if the residential unit is adjacent to the "storage garage" (query what "adjacent" means). "Storage garage" is a defined term under the Building Code Act and it is what we commonly understand to be a residential garage in which cars can be stored and in which no repair or maintenance of vehicles is undertaken and in which no provision is made for that capability.
Whether or not the law requires a carbon monoxide detector to be installed in the context of your home or your apartment building, will require a careful consideration of the lay out of the building, the lay out of the rental units, and a consideration of the sources of carbon monoxide as well as the appliances that can generate the gas.
Perhaps you've click on the link to the legislation above to look for the RULES & SPECIFICS on where, how, and when a carbon monoxide detector needs to be installed. Of course you're disappointed because the law simply says the Fire Protection and Prevention Act is amended and now the power to regulate carbon monoxide exists and of course there is a new Carbon Monoxide Awareness week.
I haven't quite figured out the logic of it, but the regulation that the Fire Protection and Prevention Act contemplates for the requirement of Carbon Monoxide detectors does not seem to be promulgated under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. Instead, those regulations seem to be under the Ontario Building Code, which in some was I don't understand must make sense.
The Rules for the installation, requirement for, location, and method of installation are set out in a Regulation. That regulation appears to be Regulation 332/12 to the Ontario Building Code and it is not in force until January 1, 2014. As I go through the regulation, it deals with carbon monoxide detectors as follows:
6.2.12. Carbon Monoxide Alarms
(1) This Subsection applies to every building that,
(a) contains a residential occupancy, and
(b) contains a fuel-burning appliance or a storage garage.
18.104.22.168. Location of Carbon Monoxide Alarms
(1) Where a fuel-burning appliance is installed in a suite of residential occupancy, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed adjacent to each sleeping area in the suite.
(2) Where a fuel-burning appliance is installed in a service room that is not in a suite of residential occupancy, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed,
(a) adjacent to each sleeping area in every suite of residential occupancy that is adjacent to the service room, and
(b) in the service room.
(3) Where a storage garage is located in a building containing a residential occupancy, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed adjacent to each sleeping area in every suite of residential occupancy that is adjacent to the storage garage.
22.214.171.124. Installation and Conformance to Standards
(1) The carbon monoxide alarms required by Article 126.96.36.199. shall,
(a) except as permitted in Sentence (2), be permanently connected to an electrical circuit and shall have no disconnect switch between the overcurrent device and the carbon monoxide alarm,
(b) be wired so that its activation will activate all carbon monoxide alarms within the suite, where located within a suite of residential occupancy,
(c) be equipped with an alarm that is audible within bedrooms when the intervening doors are closed, where located in a suite of residential occupancy, and
(d) conform to,
(i) CAN/CSA-6.19, “Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices”, or
(ii) UL 2034, “Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide Alarms”.
(2) Where the building is not supplied with electrical power, carbon monoxide alarms are permitted to be battery operated.
There are additional sections that deal with Carbon Monoxide detectors--for example section 188.8.131.52 Repair and Storage Garages, so please don't assume that I have comprehensively dealt with carbon monoxide detection in this Article. If you're reading this and looking for a more comprehensive review of all things carbon monoxide in the law of Ontario, consider doing a search through the statutes and regulations through the e-law site which you can access from this LINK.
SUMMARY OF WHAT'S COMING (JANUARY 1, 2014)
The law requires that buildings that contain fuel burning appliances and/or storage garages are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors that are hard-wired into the buildings electrical systems. Only buildings without electrical service will, that would otherwise require hard-wired detectors will be permitted battery operated detectors. The location of carbon monoxide detectors is regulated and how they interact with each other is also regulated. It seems that the interconnectivity between the detectors (when one goes off they all go off) means that the only practical way of complying with the law in units with many sleeping areas is the installation of hardwired alarm systems or the purchase of sophisticated carbon monoxide detectors that can speak to each other wirelessly.
Michael K. E. Thiele