Carbon monoxide detector requirement advances

March 21, 2017 GMT

La PORTE — A local measure to require carbon monoxide detectors in new homes continues to find support with the La Porte City Council, even as state officials work to incorporate such a measure into Indiana building codes.

Council members tweaked the wording and will hear the amendment again at their next meeting in April to give builders and others time to weigh in.

Among those who spoke out in favor of the ordinance Monday was La Porte resident Dot Kesling, whose daughter, Lindsey O’Brien Kesling, was 22 when she died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning at her apartment in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“People complain about the cost of a carbon monoxide detector, but the real cost is when 30,000 people a year are exposed to this odorless, colorless gas and you end up with hospital costs and the costs of caring for people who are disabled for life,” Kesling said. “What good is building the American dream, your home, if you don’t have a safe environment to live in?”

The Kesling family created the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation in their daughter’s honor. Part of the foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it.

Fire Chief Andy Snyder, who presented the ordinance to the council, said the cost of installing a detector during construction is $25 to $45.

Any changes in the local building ordinance must be approved by the state Fire Safety and Building Commission, which had given its approval to this measure after Snyder and others testified earlier this month in Indianapolis.

Snyder said the state also is considering how to adopt regulations that would require detectors.

The local measure would require a carbon monoxide detector in any new residential property that has a fireplace, attached garage or fossil-fuel burning appliance. The building could not be occupied without a properly installed detector.

Although the ordinance applies only to new construction, Snyder encouraged all residents to get a detector, saying first responders get 45 to 50 calls a year related to carbon monoxide poisoning due to chimneys or flues that leak or are blocked by bird nests, for example, or because an engine is left running in an adjacent garage.

“People need to be aware of the dangers,” Snyder said, “and our experience has shown than education is more effective than any ordinance.”

Not everyone who spoke on the issue was in favor of the proposal.

Sierra Sue Jesch, of Stone Lake Drive, said such an ordinance would be unenforceable because residents could remove the detector after moving into a property. Lou Carlassara said residents should be allowed to decide for themselves if a detector is worth the cost.

However, Scott Wilson, a resident of F Street, said the city is obligated to do whatever it can to protect the safety of residents.

“You can pass an ordinance, and if it saves even one life, you haven’t wasted anyone’s time,” Wilson said.