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Bill Would Require Carbon Monoxide Alarms In Schools, Restaurants

By Katie Brace, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – New regulations for restaurants and schools could be on the way for Massachusetts. The State Senate approved a bill requiring carbon monoxide detectors after a few close calls.

“This is truly a life saving measure passed by the Senate,” said State Fire Marshal Steve Coan who is pushing for the bill to pass the State House of Representatives next.

Early detection systems are crucial in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. Called “the silent killer,” CO is odorless, colorless and tasteless.

Related: Will Your CO Detector Protect You?

Nine people- including six kindergartners- were sent to the hospital last March after a carbon monoxide scare at a school in Douglas. With the help of the Douglas Fire Chief, Coan advocated for a plan that gives schools five years to integrate CO detection into their smoke alarm systems. Schools will be required to use battery operated detectors until they are able to upgrade. The proposal does include some funding help for school systems.

“When our young people are in schools for many hours during the daytime, they need to be protected from carbon monoxide,” said Coan.

The legislation would also require newly built or substantially renovated restaurants to integrate their carbon monoxide monitors with smoke alarm systems. This piece was inspired by the death of a man at Legal Sea Foods in New York. Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, told WBZ in a statement:

“Today important legislation passed that will save lives and protect the health of our children, friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. It’s a great step in the name of public safety and we applaud its passing. Special thanks to Senate President Murray who spearheaded the bill.”

After the New York incident in February, restaurant owners say they began to take a closer look at their own CO suppression systems. Lucas Ahearn, manager of The Stockyard restaurant in Brighton, tells WBZ his tech-savvy chef brought in additional detectors to protect their customers.

A more costly system is in place at some restaurants across Boston including Gather in the Innovation District. The brand new restaurant is equipped with a detector directly over the stove in the kitchen.

“The gas and heat are immediately turned off and the fire department is informed,” said Gather’s manager David McCleery. Their policy is to evacuate the building until it’s cleared by the fire department. The integrated CO and smoke alarm system helps limit the number of false alarms sometimes seen in home detectors. The bill does not require restaurants to retro-fit, only school buildings.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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