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Carbon Monoxide Alarms to Be Required in HUD and USDA Properties

Included as part of the COVID-19 relief package was a bill – H.R. 1690, which was originally passed on 9/20/2019 and is titled as the Carbon Monoxide Alarms Leading Every Resident To Safety Act of 2019.  A summary of the requirement for federally funded housing is:

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Each dwelling unit assisted under this subtitle shall contain installed carbon monoxide alarms or detectors that meet or exceed(1) the standards described in chapters 9 and 11 of the 2018 publication of the International Fire Code, as published by the International Code Council; or“(2) any other standards as may be adopted by the Secretary, including any relevant updates to the International Fire Code, through a notice published in the Federal Register.”

Congress has appropriated approximately $300 million in funding over the next three years to pay for purchase/installation of equipment. There is no guidance as of this date on how owners, agents, and public housing authorities will be able to access these funds.

Where Are CO Detectors Required to be Installed?

The language in the ICC Fire Code (Chapter 9, Section 915) reads as follows:

  • Section 9.15,1.1. Where Required — Carbon Monoxide detection shall be provided in dwelling units, sleeping units. … that contain a fuel burning appliance or fuel-burning fireplace.
  • Section 915.2.1. Carbon Monoxide Detection shall be installed in dwelling units outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. Where a fuel-burning appliance is located within a bedroom or its attached bathroom, carbon monoxide detection shall be installed within the bedroom.
  • Section 915.5.1 – Carbon Monoxide detection systems shall comply with NFPA 720 . “Standard for the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detection and warning equipment“.
  • Section 915.4.1 – Power source. Carbon monoxide alarms shall receive their primary power from the building wiring, … and when primary power is interrupted, shall receive power from a battery.

What Funding Programs Must Follow This New Rule?

H.R. 1690 includes language for the following federally funded housing programs:

  • Public Housing
  • Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Multifamily Section 8
  • 202 and 811 PRAC
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
  • USDA Rural Housing

The language in the bill indicates that the effective date of this bill “shall take effect on the date that is 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act“.

How Does This New Rule Change REAC or NSPIRE?

The language in the ICC Fire Code for Carbon Monoxide mirrors the language in the proposed NSPIRE standards, so there does not appear to be any need for a change. The only notable difference is the ICC requirement that carbon monoxide detectors must be “hard-wired”. There is no language in NSPIRE that specifies verification of hard-wired installation. Otherwise, the standard for location in a dwelling unit is the same in ICC and NSPIRE.

Multifamily Housing providers that do not currently provide CO detection should determine what the cost and scope would be for installation of a CO safety system over the next two years.

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