Colorado bill would require carbon monoxide detectors
December 10, 2008
DENVER ” State lawmakers will again consider whether to require residential carbon monoxide detectors in more homes following the deaths of four members of a Denver family during a stay at a luxury property near Aspen.
State Rep. John Soper, D-Thornton, and incoming Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, said Wednesday they would introduce a bill next month requiring all new homes and all homes up for sale to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. A similar bill was killed during the last legislative session following opposition from home builders.
Four members of the Lofgren family were found dead Nov. 28 in a home outside Aspen with high levels of carbon monoxide. Thirty-nine-year-old Parker Lofgren, a founding partner of investment bank St. Charles Capital, his wife Caroline, 42, and their two children ” Owen, 10, and Sophie, 8 ” had won a weekend stay at the property in a church auction. It’s currently on the market for $8.5 million.
Technicians found that a combination of errors in the home’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems led to extreme levels of carbon monoxide in the house.
Soper co-sponsored last year’s bill with outgoing Sen. Bob Hagedorn, who blamed opposition from home builders and real estate agents for its failure. At the time, he urged senators to pass the bill, pointing out that nine people had died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Colorado the previous year. Some Democrats joined with Republicans to kill the measure, with one senator nominating it for “nanny state” bill of the year.
“That’s the sad thing. We had an opportunity to prevent this tragedy,” said Hagedorn, who bought his own $23 detector after being approached by fire marshals to introduce the bill.
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Amie Mayhew, vice president of public affairs for the Colorado Home Builders Association, said the cost of the detectors wasn’t the problem. She said some builders had doubts about the reliability of detectors and disagreed with the bill’s requirements that they be placed near bedrooms. Some thought it would be better if they were placed near furnaces that could release carbon monoxide.
Mayhew said Soper has asked home builders to participate in drafting the bill this time so some of these details could be worked out. She said she couldn’t say whether the group would support the proposal until the final wording is reached.
Aspen and Pitkin County have required detectors in homes built since 2003, but the regulations in place when the Lofgrens died didn’t specify where they had to be located. Authorities have searched the home where they died but haven’t revealed whether they found any detectors.
Since the deaths of the Lofgrens, city and county building officials have begun requiring that carbon monoxide detectors be placed near bedrooms. County commissioners will also consider an emergency ordinance on Dec. 17 that will require detectors in existing buildings, including hotels and timeshares, as well.