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On Dec. 27, 2020, the President signed into law new legislation that authorizes $304 million in funds for carbon monoxide detectors in federally assisted housing. The legislation ensures that carbon monoxide alarms are installed in a manner that meets the standards described in the Code Council's 2018 International Fire Code.
The legislation is based on the Carbon Monoxide Alarms Leading Every Resident to Safety Act (CO ALERTS Act), which was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-IL), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), and in the Senate by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Robert Mendez (D-NJ). U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson offered his support shortly after the bill's introduction.
The bill requires that by the end of 2022 federally assisted housing have carbon monoxide alarms in units that have potential sources of carbon monoxide such as gas-fired appliances, fireplaces, forced air furnaces, and attached garages. Carbon monoxide alarms will also be required in rural housing. Additionally, HUD will provide guidance to public housing agencies to help them educate tenants on potential housing health hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning and lead poisoning. In 2019, there were many reports of deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning in public housing complexes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50,000 people are sickened by carbon monoxide annually, resulting in 430 deaths. Of the approximately 5 million families that receive HUD rental assistance, most have young children, are elderly, or disabled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states that carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable and recommends installing carbon monoxide alarms.
"We are excited to see that the International Fire Code is being used to inform legislation that will have a crucial impact on safety in the home," said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. "We are proud to do our part in making homes safer for every member of society, especially the most vulnerable."
For more information on the Code Council and the International Fire Code, please visit www.iccsafe.org.
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