New York enacts new CO detection legislation

Jan. 27, 2015
All restaurants, retailers required to have CO detectors in place by June

Late last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law new legislation that requires every restaurant and commercial building in the state to install carbon monoxide detectors by June 2015. The law is named after Steven Nelson, a manager at a Legal Sea Foods restaurant on Long Island who died last year following a carbon monoxide leak caused by a faulty water heater flue pipe. Nearly 30 others were also sickened as a result of the leak, which occurred inside the basement of a restaurant complex attached to the Walt Whitman Shops mall.

“Unfortunately, too often it takes a tragedy to spur the passage of common sense laws.  Such a tragedy occurred back in February, when Steven Nelson was overcome by carbon monoxide while working at a Huntington Station restaurant.  A carbon monoxide detector could have saved his life,” state Sen. Carl Marcellino said in a statement

Under current state law, every one- or two-family home, condominium, cooperative and each unit of a multiple dwelling must have a working carbon monoxide detector, restaurants and other commercial buildings where excluded.

“This legislation will help prevent another senseless and avoidable death.  Carbon monoxide is a silent killer.  These simple detecting devices warn us against this deadly colorless, odorless and tasteless gas.  My thoughts remain with the Nelson family and hope their story serves as a wakeup call for everyone to get a carbon monoxide detector today,” added Marcellino.

Although carbon monoxide poisoning kills nearly 450 people and hospitalizes another 15,000 on average each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bob Williams, president of Briscoe Protective Systems, Inc., said that the majority of states and municipalities across the nation have no laws on the books requiring commercial facilities to have carbon monoxide detectors.  

“This is a statewide commercial law and it’s very important because it is retroactive, so it covers existing facilities as well as new construction,” said Williams. “With the passage of this law there is going to be a lot of business for security and alarm companies throughout the state to retrofit existing systems and any new systems that will go in to incorporate CO detection from the start.”

Additionally, Williams said that there hasn’t been much pushback against the law from businesses in the state even though it may result in an additional expense for their companies.

“These laws happen as a result of deaths. The residential (CO detection) law for New York that passed in 2010 was called Amanda’s Law after a young girl named Amanda Hansen who passed away after sleeping over at a friend’s house where there was a clogged boiler vent and then, unfortunately, Steve Nelson succumbed to CO poisoning last year,” added Williams. “Because this is a colorless, odorless gas… people are very afraid of that, so businesses have not come out in opposition to it because of the fatalities that have been associated with it.”

To make sure they are in compliance with the law, Williams recommends that businesses reach out to their existing security and fire system providers who can assist them in acquiring, installing and maintaining the necessary equipment.

“Every municipality has a testing requirement (for CO detectors). Usually is it goes by the NFPA guidelines and detectors are tested at least tested twice a year,” said Williams. “You have to make it part of your regular maintenance and fire marshals are looking for that now when they take a look at fire inspections to make sure the CO detectors, as well as the smoke detectors,  are maintained properly.”

Under most circumstances, Williams said that the new law also requires that CO detectors in commercial facilities be installed by fire and security professionals.  

“Now that they are mandated by the state for commercial buildings, any commercial building that has a fire alarm system would be required to have the detectors installed by a professional company. It is not like you would just have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector put up by the owner of the property, but they would have the detector incorporated into the fire alarm system and filed with the municipality or at least inspected by the municipality so there are some guidelines that go into it,” added Williams.  

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Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief,

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.