Overhauled Code for Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Applies to Commercial Buildings

Greater awareness of the lethal nature of carbon monoxide (CO) has given rise to increasing numbers of state and local building codes related to CO. Although the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has had a CO code for dwelling units for some time, it has not had a CO code for commercial buildings – until now.

The NFPA has released the 2009 edition of the CO code, NFPA 720, and industry professionals and management in the commercial building field need to pay attention to how this far-reaching code will affect them. The new code, which is a complete rewrite of the CO detection standard, covers commercial occupancies as well as residences. The 2009 edition also requires significant changes in terms of CO detector development, installation, testing and off-premise signal transmission.

According to System Sensor, a St. Charles, Ill., manufacturer of fire and life safety systems, building and safety managers need to be aware of how this code affects their facilities. NFPA 720, for example, calls for placement of CO detectors on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building. Other notable changes include:

  • CO detectors must be distinct from fire alarms and other devices. Plus, devices must have an integral trouble relay that will send trouble conditions to the control panel, such as a sensor failure or sensor end-of-life signal.
  • The code specifies requirements for secondary power supplies for CO detection systems and how that requirement differs depending on whether the notification applications are connected to a supervising station.

Many authorities having jurisdiction, such as fire inspectors, as well as engineers and building owners have requested the ability to test a CO detector just as they are able to test a smoke detector with canned smoke. NFPA 720 does not yet require CO device testing, however, some new detectors on the market already meet this testing requirement.

NFPA 720 – Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment 2009 Edition is available in print and PDF format at http://www.nfpa.org.
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