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CO Detector Installation
Updated On: Apr 24, 2009

Provisions of New Regulations for CO Detectors

For buildings with fossil-fuel burning equipment or enclosed parking areas, the new regulations require carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and within ten feet of each sleeping area and in habitable portions of basements and attics. The CO detectors may be:

  • Battery operated with battery monitoring; or
  • Plug-ins with battery back-up; or
  • Hard-wired with battery backup; or
  • Low voltage system; or
  • Wireless, or
  • Qualified combination (smoke/carbon monoxide alarm)

Acceptable combination smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms must have simulated voice and tone alarms that clearly distinguish between the two types of emergencies. The State Building Code mandates that only photoelectric combination alarms are permitted within twenty feet of a bathroom or kitchen.

All affected residences must install approved carbon monoxide alarms by March 31, 2006, although, where hard-wired systems are required, the deadline is January 1, 2007.

Alternative Compliance Options

The regulations allows for alternative compliance options that may be more practical for larger buildings with multiple dwelling units that contain minimal or no sources of CO inside the individual units. The option allows owners to target the CO alarm protection only in those areas that could be potential sources of the CO. Examples include rooms that contain boilers, hot water heaters, central laundry areas and all adjacent spaces, in addition to enclosed parking areas. This CO protection option requires hard or low voltage wiring, monitoring and certain signal transmission requirements. The deadline for compliance with this method of protection is January 1, 2007.

Important:  If the apartments utilize a fossil-fueled appliance (gas stove or fireplace), a carbon monoxide detector is still required to be installed within the unit by March 31, 2006 even if you decide to choose the alternative compliance.

Permit Required: Any owner who chooses the Alternative Compliance Option must obtain a State Fire Marshal Form 7D Permit from the Fire Prevention Office.


Please note the following changes to the regulation
effective 12-7-06:

  • Effective 1-1-2008 all hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and day cares are required to install carbon monoxide detection. Different installation requirements apply. Please contact the FIre Prevention Office for additional information (617) 349-4968.


Landlords Must Inspect Annually and at Start of Each Rental Period

Landlords must inspect, maintain, and replace, if necessary, required CO alarms annually and at the beginning of any rental period. Tenants should report any problems with detectors to the landlord immediately and learn to recognize the difference between the smoke alarm and the carbon monoxide detector.


The Department of Public Health is required to adopt and enforce this requirement on landlords as part of the State Sanitary code.

Fire departments are currently required to inspect smoke alarms when one-five unit homes are being sold and transferred. Starting March 31, 2006 (or January 1, 2007 where hard-wired are required) fire departments will be required to inspect all residences upon sale and transfer for carbon monoxide detectors. Maximum fees for separate or joint inspecting of CO alarms and smoke detectors are $50.00 for single-family homes or units (i.e. condo), $100.00 for 2-family dwellings, $150.00 for 3-6 unit dwellings and $500.00 for 6 or more unit buildings.

Additional CO alarm requirements for certain transient residential buildings such as hotels and motels are being developed, in addition to requirements for certain institutional buildings. It is anticipated that the regulations for these types of buildings will be promulgated in the very near future in order to meet the statutes January 1, 2007 deadline.

Cambridge Fire Fighters
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