CO detectors required by March 9 in Aspen, Pitkin County
December 18, 2008
ASPEN ” Pitkin County has stiffened its law regarding carbon monoxide detectors, and has named the revised ordinance after a family of four who all died of carbon monoxide poisoning while in Aspen for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The “emergency ordinance,” henceforth to be called the Lofgren Ordinance, also is being adopted by the Aspen City Council. Both the city and the county will be holding public hearings on the ordinance after the new year ” on Jan 12 at City Hall and on Jan. 17 at the Courthouse Plaza.
Property owners have until March 9, 2009, to comply with the regulation.
The law, which was drawn up by a combination of city, county and Aspen Fire Protection District officials, essentially covers all buildings, residential or commercial, which contain bedrooms.
“If you can sleep in it, you have to have one,” intoned Aspen Fire Marshal Ed VanWalraven at the Pitkin County commissioners meeting on Wednesday.
The enactment of the law arises out of the deaths of Parker Lofgren, his wife Caroline and their two children at a home at 10 Popcorn Lane on Nov. 27. The family died from inhaling carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can come from appliances that burn fossil fuels and can either sicken or kill those who breath it in.
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The incident has prompted state legislators to go to work on laws requiring that all homes be equipped with CO detectors, and Tony Fusaro, the county’s chief building official, said he will be sending the ordinance out to area governments interested in enacting their own laws.
Under the new code, it is the responsibility of all residential property owners to install and maintain CO detectors in their buildings, one near each bedroom and one located generally on each floor of the structure.
The law covers homeowners who live in their houses, as well as landlords who rent properties out to tenants and hotels that rent rooms. The detectors are required in association with “sleeping units containing fuel burning appliances, e.g. gas clothes dryer, decorative gas fireplace, wood-burning appliance, etc.,” according to the wording of the ordinance.
Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield asked at Wednesday’s meeting, “What about an all-electric house?” VanWalraven answered that, in situations where electric power fails, homeowners often turn to gas-powered devices to keep their houses warm and lighted, and those devices have been known to fail and kill people.
The suggestion to name the ordinance after the Lofgrens came from Commissioner Michael Owsley, who said it is an appropriate way to honor them in the effort to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
The law points up two different issues, noted Commissioner Dorothea Farris, “personal responsibility and education.”
She called on the county, in its public relations campaign related to the new regulation, to emphasize the need for people to be responsible for their own safety in relation to the law.
Fusaro said the detectors must comply with standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, and must be maintained in working order by the property owner.
Penalties for noncompliance with the law include fines that start at $250 for the first offense, rise to $500 for the second offense and a court appearance and possible jail time for additional offenses.
Another possible result of a failure to comply with the law is the withdrawal or withholding of “any Community Development issued permit” for development projects.