Michael J. Lavoie
On November 4, 2005, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed "Nicole's Law", which places certain requirements on owners of all residential properties to install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. The Board of Fire Prevention Regulations has developed the regulations (527 CMR 31.00) establishing the specific requirements of the law including the type, location, maintenance and inspection requirements for the alarms.
"Nicole's Law" is named after 7-year old Nicole Garofalo who died on January 28, 2005 when her Plymouth home was filled with deadly amounts of carbon monoxide on January 24. The furnace vents had been blocked by snow during a power outage.
Generally speaking anyone who owns residential property regardless of size (i.e., 1- & 2-family homes, multi-family buildings, apartments, condominiums and townhouses, etc.) that contains fossil burning fuel equipment (i.e., oil, gas, wood, coal, etc.) OR contains enclosed parking (i.e., attached or enclosed garage) in Massachusetts, is required to install CO alarms by March 31, 2006.
How Do I Meet the Requirements of the Law?
If you install CO alarms on every habitable level by March 31, 2006 and keep them in good working order you don't have to do anything else to be in compliance with the law. When you sell your home, you must have an inspection and certificate from the local fire department before the sale is final.
What Am I Required to Do if I'm a Landlord?
Landlords must install CO alarms in each dwelling unit. Landlords also must inspect, test and maintain the CO alarms at least once a year or at the beginning of any rental period (such as lease renewal). Batteries are required to be replaced once a year.