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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Long Island officials need to move on CO detectors

Rescue vehicles stand near Legal Sea Foods Saturday,

Rescue vehicles stand near Legal Sea Foods Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Huntington Station, where a restaurant manager died of carbon monoxide inhalation and about two dozen were sickened. In reaction, Hempstead Town wants commercial buildings to have CO detectors. Credit: Stringer News Service

It was business as usual Sunday afternoon at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station.

Maybe visitors were rushing to get some shopping or dining in before an expected snow; or maybe they were out and about anticipating the promise of spring.

Either way, the mall seemed busy -- except at the still-shuttered Legal Sea Foods, where a manager died Feb. 22 after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.

Since then, elected officials in Suffolk and Nassau, and in Hempstead and Brookhaven towns have begun pushing legislation to require carbon monoxide alarms in commercial and other public buildings.

The wonder is that these weren't requirements before carbon monoxide poisoning killed Steve Nelson, 55, and sickened police and others in the restaurant.

Carbon monoxide has no color or odor.

But that does not mean it can't be detected.

In Hempstead, officials would like to see detectors in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, gyms, churches, movie theaters and other public places.

In Brookhaven, the measure would put them in all commercial buildings.

In Suffolk, there's a move to create a task force to determine whether detectors should be placed in commercial buildings. They also are considering moving swiftly to install detectors in government and community college buildings.

In Nassau -- where interparty squabbling is high art -- Legis. Judy Jacobs, of Woodbury, a Democrat, wants to do something similar. But that's likely to go nowhere because majority Republicans prefer that the change come from New York State.

So it should.

As of now, there is no requirement that commercial buildings have carbon monoxide alarms.

That must change, sooner rather than later.

And it's good to see that a trio of Long Islanders have introduced legislation in Albany to get that done.

Last week, State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) introduced a bill to require detectors in commercial establishments. There are two co-sponsors, Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington) and Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head) in the Assembly, where Democrats have a lopsided majority.

But the carbon monoxide poisoning at Walt Whitman Mall ought to prod homeowners as well.

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday -- traditionally, the day to replace batteries in home fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Town and state officials are working to protect you from the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning in public places.

But home? Family?

That responsibility -- that obligation -- rests with you.

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