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Jan 3, 2022

Welcome to episode 25 of the solocast of Fire Code Tech.  In this episode we are discussing the topic of carbon monoxide detection. On the first solocast of 2022 we break down the codes and standards around CO detection, when these devices are required and where these devices are located. To round out the episode the history of NFPA 720 to give a better picture of how to apply this life saving technology.



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal I.

Hello wall. Welcome back to Farco tech. On this episode, we're talking about carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are a complicated part of fire and life safety. So I wanted to speak about the codes and standard requirements around this technology, as well as speaking to when and where these devices are required and how they are installed before we get started in the episode, don't forget to subscribe.

So you never miss an episode. And follow us on social media. Also, if you could give us a five star rate and review on apple podcasts, that would be a huge help. Let's get the table set with some common misconceptions. First carbon monoxide is not carbon dioxide, which is the relatively inert gas that is sometimes used as a suppression.

The Google definition of carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless, toxic flammable gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon. So this gives you some idea in which these detectors are gonna be located, but I wanna start off the episode with. Where are these devices located or when are they required?

So like many topics in the fire and life safety code structure of the United States, which is how we've framed all of our discussions so far. We're gonna take a look at the international building code in chapter nine of the international building code for this discussion, we'll be using the 2015 edit.

Let's look at section nine 15, which is carbon monoxide detection. As we frame all of our code in standard discussions, you need to understand when these documents are applicable. After you've determined the applicability of the building code document, you can look at section nine, 15 carbon monoxide. In this section, you can find where these carbon monoxide detectors are required.

Sometimes when I'll be speaking with people about carbon monoxide detection, people will get confused and try to apply carbon monoxide detectors to all occupancies. Maybe if you've had some experience working on department of defense jobs, this might be a common misconception. If you take a look at nine, 15.1 point.

Which is titled where required in the international building code. You can see that only E I and our occupancies have a requirement for carbon monoxide detectors. What do all these occupancies have in common? These are occupancies with a greater impetus for fire and life safety, because there might be individuals sleeping or compromised individuals like young children in these occupancies.

It's important to think about the baseline methodology for why some occupancies have a greater focus on fire and life safety. Understanding the fundamental fire and life safety properties of specific occupancies is one of the key tasks of fire protection engineers. This specific requirement in nine, 15.1 0.1 states when required carbon monoxide detection shall be provided in group I one I two I four and R occupancies.

And in classrooms in group E occupancies in the location specified in section 15.2, where any of these conditions in section 15.1 0.2. Through 15.1 0.6 exist. So here's the big requirement for where carbon monoxide detectors and or alarms are required. Nine 15.1 0.2 fuel burning appliances and fuel burning fireplaces.

Carbon monoxide detection shall be provided in dwelling units, sleeping units and classrooms that contain fuel burning appliances or fuel burning fireplaces. So if you have a facility with EI or our occupancy and you have a fuel fired or gas appliance, you need to be thinking about carbon monoxide detection.

The other key part of nine, 15.1 through 0.6 is dwelling units, sleeping units and classrooms. Within thesei and R occupancies. These are the specific rooms and or spaces that are required to have carbon monoxide detection. Another piece of equipment that will require a carbon monoxide detection consideration is forced air furnaces.

Nine 15.1 0.3 states. Carbon monoxide detection shall be provided in dwelling units, sleeping units, and classrooms served by a fuel burning or forced air furnace. So this is a requirement that you'll see mirrored in the department of defense requirements for carbon monoxide detection, but also in commercial occupancies, which we talked about in which we have H V a C equipment that is in use of fuel burning.

There are a couple more requirements here for fuel burning appliances outside of dwelling units in private garages. But I wanna move on to the location of these carbon monoxide detectors. Nine 15.2 states' locations we're required by nine, 15.1 carbon monoxide detection shall be installed in the location specified in nine, 15.2 0.1 through nine, 15.2 0.3.

So this requirement is speaking about, okay, so we've determined that we need carbon monoxide detection. Where are these detectors going to go? Where are these detectors and or alarms going to. Nine 15.2 0.1 speaks to dwelling units. This section states carbon monoxide detection shall be installed in dwelling units outside of the sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.

So what that says to me is the carbon monoxide alarm and or detector needs to be placed within the immediate vicinity of the dwelling. and in accordance with the listed spacing criteria and performance data located on the technical documentation, we're gonna get into the standards portion of the application of carbon monoxide detectors here in a moment.

But I just wanted to throw that bit of information here while we're on the subject. The next section, when we're talking about the location. So this is a subsection. Nine 15.2 location. And that section is nine 15.2 0.2, which talks about sleeping units. This section says carbon monoxide detection shall be installed in sleeping units.

And then to caveat that requirement, there is an exception below and the exception says carbon monoxide detection shall be allowed to be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping unit. Where the sleeping unit or its attached bathroom does not contain a fuel burning appliance and does not serve by a forced air furnace.

So as a brief recap, let's talk about the subjects that we've covered so far. We've talked about, which occupancies are required to have carbon monoxide detection, that's educational, institutional, and residential occupancies in accordance with nine 15 in the international building. and then we've gone on to say in these occupancies, what spaces are required to have detectors and or alarms.

So we looked at dwelling units, sleeping units and classrooms in which we have specific conditions with fuel burning, enforced air fuel furnaces. And then most recently we just finished speaking about. In these rooms and spaces specifically, where do these detectors need to be placed? Moving on, let's talk about the standard portion of the codes and standards puzzle.

So the codes and standards, piece of carbon monoxide detection is a little bit tricky because it's changed over the last decade. Uh, pretty severely starting in about 1993, there was a petition to create a document specifically pertaining to the requirements of carbon monoxide detection. It was originally at a recommended practice until 2005.

And we're talking about an FPA seven 20. The name of this now deprecated standard is standard for the installation of carbon monoxide detection and warning equipment. I'm providing a brief overview of the history portion of NFPA seven 20. It goes on to state that the numerous revisions of the standard, including some important technical terminology and, uh, sort of location and placement advances that were made as the standard progressed in 2009, the document was completely extracted from NFPA 72.

At about this time, the fire protection research foundation made some discoveries through their diligent efforts in order to determine some better spacing criteria for commercial applications. The 2015 version of NFPA seven 20 is the last in existence. As they've basically elected to incorporate the requirements from NFPA seven 20 into NFPA 70.

In my opinion, this is a smart decision because a carbon monoxide detector is effectively a initiation device for a fire alarm system. And there are many such systems already covered in an FPA 72. This makes a little bit of muddy waters for incorporating codes and standards, because if you're looking at the 2015 edition addition, uh, the international building code, like we are for this discussion.

NFPA seven 20 is still one of the reference codes and standards. But if you're looking at the most recent version of the building code, or if you're looking at the 2018 version of NFP 72 or the 2022 addition of NFPA 72, you'll find that the carbon monoxide detection requirements are incorporated in chapter 17, which is initiating devices.

So I think that covers it for this edition of the solo cast of fire code. But I hope you enjoyed and that you'll tune in next time. Thanks for listening, everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes end standards interpretation.

Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.