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Hempstead Town to require CO monitors in commercial buildings

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

The Hempstead Town Board Tuesday unanimously approved a law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in commercial and public facilities.

The board voted 7-0 after holding a public hearing on the law that would require restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, gyms, churches, movie theaters and other public places to install detection equipment. Violators could face a fine of as much as $500 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months.

The proposal comes after a leaking flue pipe at a Huntington Station restaurant killed a manager and injured dozens of people last month.

"It is my obligation to speak for some who can no longer speak due to an unfortunate incident," said Richard Bivone, Nassau County chairman of the Long Island Business Council, adding that he once suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. "I think it is important that we pass this legislation."

Under the law, all new "places of public assembly" would be required to have hard-wired detectors with a digital readout on floors near systems that can produce carbon monoxide, such as furnaces, hot water heaters and stoves, and also one floor above. Existing businesses would be required to have standard detectors with a digital readout that plug into electrical outlets.

The law could take effect within 30 days after being filed with the Secretary of State. Existing places of public assembly would have 45 days to come into compliance.

State law requires carbon monoxide detectors only for residences, not in commercial buildings such as office buildings, factories and shopping stores. State legislators have recently introduced legislation requiring detectors in commercial establishments. "We don't want to have conflicting laws, but on the other hand, we wanted to act as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of our residents," Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said.

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