Beat the Beep: Replacing Aging CO Alarms

They don't last forever...

Wakefield Fire Chief Michael Sullivan reminds Wakefield residents to check their old Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. The Department of Fire Services has sent a bulletin to all fire departments pointing out that many carbon monoxide detectors installed in March of 2006, when new regulations were enacted requiring CO detectors in most residential buildings, may now be reaching the end of their useful life and need to be replaced. Unlike smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors have a well-defined life expectancy of 5 to 7 years, depending upon the alarm manufacturer.

Carbon monoxide detectors that have reached the end of their life will "chirp" or beep once a minute much like smoke detectors that need new batteries. If a carbon monoxide detector continues to chirp after its batteries are replaced, then it is time to replace the detector. Carbon monoxide detectors with a digital read out may have an "ERR" or "E09" or "END" message. Any detector that makes a low battery signal even when fresh batteries are installed in it needs to be replaced.

Chief Sullivan anticipates an increase in the number of responses to homes with malfunctioning CO detectors during 2013 as the detectors installed during 2006 start to fail at in increased rate. "We are already starting to experience an increase in these types of calls." The life of a CO detector begins once it is first powered up. Residents are encouraged to take a look at their CO detectors and try to locate the date of manufacture, which should be stamped on them. This date can be used as a guide if the activation date is not known.

Maintaining carbon monoxide detectors in your home can save your life. In 2010, Massachusetts fire departments responded to nearly 15,000 carbon monoxide investigations and in 5,000 cases the presence of carbon monoxide was confirmed. Please take a few minutes today to insure that all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in you home are working properly. "They can't save your life if they aren't working."

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For further information, please call:
Chief Michael Sullivan at 781-246-6435.