Jill Burke – A new push is underway from the city of Anchorage to help keep city residents safe from a silent killer. An ordinance sponsored by Mayor Mark Begich and Assembly Chair Dick Traini is before the Anchorage Assembly that would make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory, under the law, in Anchorage area homes.
Last December the quiet killer took the lives of an entire Bear Valley Family — David and Rita Arts and their three young children. A detector in their home was found unplugged. Then last month Kilwoong Chang died from carbon monoxide exposure in his South Anchorage home. His wife also suffered exposure to the gas. She survived. No detector was found in the Chang’s home.
It’s hoped making the units mandatory will help prevent more people from succumbing to something so silently lethal.
“A proper functioning carbon monoxide detector is your only way of detecting the build up of carbon monoxide in your home. If you don’t have a detector you’re not going to notice it because it’s odorless and colorless. This gives you the first warning that’s there’s a build up of carbon monoxide and gives you plenty of time to escape or correct the problem,” said Tom Kempton, Public Information Officer for the Anchorage Fire Department.
Kempton says the Anchorage Fire Department, which supports similar state-level legislation currently under review in Juneau, would support the proposed changes to Anchorage’s building codes.
If passed, the changes to current law would require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed on every level of a home and outside of any sleeping areas. Even though that means spending more money on new construction, The Anchorage Homebuilders Association says the requirements are a good idea. “We felt that it would cost about $70 per detector to install it. We felt if you put a carbon monoxide and combination smoke detector on each level in the home that it would be a little under $200 and we felt that that was worth the investment,” said Bill Taylor, who sits on the Anchorage Homebuilders Association Board. Taylor also owner Colony Builders.
The code changes, if passed, would also require existing homes to be retrofitted. There is no anticipated cost to the city; homeowners and builders will need to cover all costs on their own.