Law requiring digital carbon monoxide detectors in new homes eyed in Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

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The Brookhaven Town Board is weighing a plan to require all new homes to install digital carbon monoxide detectors after a Huntington Station restaurant manager died from the poisonous gas earlier this year.

Brookhaven officials said digital readouts on the detectors would show the presence of carbon monoxide before the gas reaches a lethal level.

Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who proposed the resolution, said the devices would prevent residents from being sickened by the potentially fatal gas.

"At [lower] levels, people still get sick," Kepert said.

Some town board members expressed reservations about the resolution, with one saying it was flawed and unnecessary.

Brookhaven earlier this year required commercial, office and industrial buildings to have carbon monoxide detectors, following the death in February of a manager at Legal Sea Foods in the Walt Whitman Shops.

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The manager died from fumes emitted by a faulty flue pipe. The restaurant did not have a CO detector, authorities said.

State law currently requires homes to have CO detectors if they have an attached garage or devices that emit carbon monoxide.

Brookhaven deputy town attorney Beth Reilly said digital detectors, unlike standard CO detectors, indicate carbon monoxide levels that may be too low to be lethal but are high enough to be dangerous.

The town board meets Tuesday and is expected to schedule a public hearing on the resolution.

Kepert's proposal triggered a lively debate during a town board work session on Thursday. Councilman Dan Panico said limiting the CO detector requirement to new houses would leave occupants of older dwellings more susceptible to being poisoned.

"Wouldn't one want to have CO detectors on older housing that is more prone" to gas leaks? he said.

Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said he was open to requiring detectors at new homes, but said he would be skeptical of requiring existing houses to install new equipment because of the cost. "We don't want to impose additional expenses on people who are struggling," he said.

Officials said digital detectors cost about $65 each.

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Councilwoman Jane Bonner said she was not sure the town had enough resources to inspect homes and ensure they comply with the new law.

"Why require something we can't enforce?" she said.

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