Pass carbon monoxide law, or risk more deaths: expert
April 7, 2017
The New Brunswick government must pass legislation to make carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in homes and businesses, one of Canada’s leading experts said in Fredericton on Friday.
John Gignac, executive director of the Ontario-based Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education, is spearheading a nationwide call to action to prevent more carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. Two New Brunswickers died from carbon monoxide poisoning during January’s ice storm, and more than 30 were sent to the hospital after being exposed to the gas.
“That’s why it’s so important for us to move on it now,” Gignac said. “If we don’t move [on this] other people are going to die from this killer. All you have to do is put a CO alarm in your home.”
To date, only Ontario and the Yukon have passed carbon monoxide law requiring homeowners have such devices.
In Ontario, the law applies to anybody that has any fuel-burning appliance in their home or business, such as an oil furnace, propane fireplace or a gas stove.
Failure to install the alarms can lead to fines of up to $50,000 for homeowners and $100,000 for businesses.
Gignac, a former firefighter, said his organization has had preliminary discussions with the New Brunswick government on the need for CO alarms in homes but nothing has happened as of yet.
“I lost family members in 2008,” Gignac said. “I lost my niece, her husband and both their children to carbon monoxide. That’s why I am so adamant in protecting the rest of the families in Canada. If we don’t, we are going to keep seeing incidents with people dying and that’s senseless.”
Paul Bradley, a spokesman with the Department of Justice and Public Safety, said the provincial government has initiated a process to identify lessons learned from the recent ice storm, including public meetings that took place this week in support of a post-action review.
The Clerk of the Executive Council will report on the review’s findings at the end of July.
“Before that report is finalized, it would be premature to speculate what outcomes may result from this ice storm, including potential legislation associated with carbon monoxide alarms,” Bradley said. “While new construction requires (CO) alarms, if there is an attached garage or a heating or other system that runs on carbon based fuel, CO alarms are not mandatory for older buildings in New Brunswick. However, the Office of the Fire Marshal continues to encourage the use of CO alarms in all buildings that use carbon-based fuels or have an attached garage.”
The government is also focused on educating New Brunswickers about the dangers of CO and ensuring residents know how to safely operate devices that can emit the potentially deadly gas, he said.
We NEED to pass carbon monoxide law legislation. We need to protect our family!