Virginia Legislature Considering Carbon Monoxide Alarm Bill

RICHMOND, Va. – A Virginia Senate committee approved a bill that would give localities the option to require carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in apartment buildings, motels and boarding houses.

The Committee on General Laws and Technology voted 14-1 to send the bill to the full Senate, with Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico County, opposing the legislation, the Roanoke Times reported.

Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, sponsored the bill after CO poisoning incidents in Blacksburg and Salem the past two years.

In August, 23 people were sickened by a hot-water heater leaking CO at an off-campus apartment building in Blacksburg. In 2006 more than 100 adults and teenagers staying in the Sections dorms at Roanoke College were hospitalized for CO poisoning, also from a faulty hot-water heater. One man, 91-year-old Walter Vierling of Pearisburg, died.

Edwards says his bill came at the request of residents from Blacksburg.

“It is not a mandate,” Edwards told the newspaper. Instead, “it authorizes the localities to go forward with hearings to fashion an ordinance that will protect citizens in apartment complexes. I can tell you the citizens of Blacksburg are quite concerned about so many students living in apartment complexes that might not be safe with the lack of carbon monoxide alarms.”

Many people representing various state firefighters’ groups are in favor of the bill, while realtors, building code officials and home builders opposed it, the newspaper reported.

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