ADVISORY

To: All Heads of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: June 1, 2006
Re: Inspection and Enforcement of Nicole's Law, Chapter 148, § 26F½

This memorandum is intended to answer questions regarding the scope of inspection and enforcement of Chapter 148 § 26F½, which requires all residential units having fossil fuel burning equipment or enclosed parking, to install carbon monoxide alarms by either March 31, 2006 (for non-hardwired dwellings) or January 1, 2007 (for hardwired dwellings).

The law requires inspection by the fire department upon sale or transfer of the residential building structure or dwelling for compliance with the regulations governing carbon monoxide alarms. In the typical scenario, this would be the first opportunity for the fire department to observe whether a residence has complied with the requirements for carbon monoxide alarms. Obviously, no Certificate should be issued until such residence is in compliance. However, there may be times when the fire department observes instances of non-compliance with the carbon monoxide law when the property is not being sold or transferred. For example, either by administrative warrant issued to enter the premises for a lawful purpose, or more likely, a permissible warrantless entry either in response to a fire or medical call, by consent of the tenant or owner of the building or any other reason, in which the fire department is lawfully on the premises and observes a violation. In these cases, because all residences with fossil fuel devices or enclosed parking were required to comply by a specific date (March 31, 2006 or January 1, 2007), non-compliance after these dates is subject to enforcement whether or not there is a sale or transfer of the property. The fire department may issue either a warning (Notice of Violation) with a condition to comply and allow inspection or an Order of Notice (Violation) and file a criminal complaint in the housing court or district court having jurisdiction. This carbon monoxide law also applies to new construction in the current absence of any building code requirement.

Chapter 148 § 26F½ does not contain an express penalty, so a violation of that statute would be cited under Chapter 148 § 34 (Violation of Statutes), which provides for a default penalty of not more than $100.00 or $100.00 a day for a continuing violation of any provision of Chapter 148 not otherwise provided for. Currently, carbon monoxide alarm violations are not citable as "code ticket" violation under Chapter 148A, the new ticketing procedures. DFS expects to add this and other violations to the ticket book with the permission of the Court, in the near future.

SDC/bhs

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