City seeks feedback on CO ordinance


City officials are seeking feedback on a proposed ordinance that would require carbon monoxide detectors with 10-year non-replaceable, non-removable batteries in all rental properties in Superior by 2020.

The city hosts a public meeting on the ordinance from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave. Anyone who has a stake, concern or issue with the proposed ordinance is encouraged to attend. Councilors, building and fire inspectors, Fire Chief Steve Panger and Mayor Jim Paine are expected to attend.

By state law, carbon monoxide detectors are required in all residences with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages. Similar to smoke alarms, the detectors sound an alarm if there are dangerous levels of carbon monoxide — a colorless, odorless gas — present.

One detector must be installed in the basement, and one on every floor of a residence, near sleeping areas. More detectors may be required in larger buildings, depending on where fuel-burning appliances are located.

The city ordinance would step up requirements for landlords, making units with 10-year tamper-proof batteries mandatory in all rental properties, even one- and two-family dwellings.

Carbon monoxide sensors only had a seven-year life until recently, according to Panger. The new technology that permits 10-year sensors was brought to his attention by local landlord John Mahan.

"If the ordinance is passed it is a win-win for all concerned," Mahan said.

It would make tenants safer because they won't be able to remove the batteries, Mahan said. The detectors also chirp at the end of their 10-year life span and cannot be silenced. So they will get changed when they need to. It will also prevent some of the conflicts between the Superior Fire Department and landlords, he said.

Although the 10-year units are about $5 more than the battery units, they actually cost less when you add in the extra $1.70 a year for a battery. It will also cut down on maintenance trips to replace batteries.

The city has had a similar ordinance requiring 10-year tamper-proof smoke detectors in rental property since Jan. 1, 2008.

The proposed lead time for landlords to comply is a point of concern, according to Mahan and Superior Landlords Association Program chairman Marty Curtiss. The current draft of the carbon monoxide detector ordinance gives landlords until January of 2020 to make the switch.

"One of the things the landlords asked for is a phased installation," Mahan said. "We are asking that as the carbon monoxide detectors reach the end of their life, that would be when they would be required to be changed to the newer tamperproof units."

He estimated that under those guidelines, about 95 percent of units would be changed in seven years and all of them would be changed in 10.

Panger said the time frame is open for discussion.

"We'll change the date if it's a problem," he said. "We don't want people to have to take out good detectors."

Another concern voiced by Curtiss was confusion that could be caused because the current draft of the ordinance is intertwined with the city's smoke detector rules.

Panger said that the carbon monoxide ordinance will be separated from the smoke detector ordinance.

The current draft has already passed the city's Public Safety Committee.

Panger called it a working document and said that city officials were interested in taking public feedback before presenting it to the city council for a vote.

Even if changes are made, the fire chief said, it wouldn't have to go back to the committee before heading to the council floor.

We're just looking at a few details," Panger said. "We're not changing the whole ordinance. We're just changing some details. It effectively doesn't change the ordinance."

Feedback from landlords, he said, is crucial right now.

Information about the new technology is getting out, even without an approved ordinance.

"We're actually already telling people if they are switching out carbon monoxide detectors to change it to the 10-year," Panger said.

If the ordinance is approved, fire inspectors plan to hand out information about the 10-year detectors to landlords each time they inspect a rental. They will also post information on the department's website and Facebook page.

Proposed carbon monoxide ordinance