Enhanced Carbon Monoxide Requirements in New Massachusetts Building Code

Enhanced Carbon Monoxide Requirements in New Massachusetts Building Code


Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection is a key life safety consideration designing a building or space. CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can lead to headaches, confusion, dizziness, unconsciousness, and even death. CO can be produced from any fuel fired equipment and occurs as a result of inefficient combustion. Where fuel fired equipment is present, there is always CO risk that should be considered in the design of the space. The 2015 IBC requirement addresses the following occupancies where specific conditions present increased risk of CO poisoning:

  1. Institutional occupancies classified as Group I-1, I-2, or I-4 (group homes, hospitals, day cares, etc.)

  2. Residential occupancies (Group R)

  3. Classrooms in educational occupancies (Group E)

Within these occupancies the IBC does not require full-building CO detection. CO detection is required in Dwelling Units, Sleeping Units, and Classrooms where certain hazards are present. While a full list of conditions that require CO detection is contained in IBC Section 915.1.2 through 915.1.6, some common examples are listed below:

  1. Space containing fuel-burning appliances or fireplaces

  2. Space served by a fuel-burning forced-air furnace

  3. Specific conditions where building contains fuel-burning equipment that doesn’t serve the space but could communicate to the space

  4.  Building contains a private garage that could communicate to the space

When spaces require CO detection, the IBC allows them to be protected by either Carbon Monoxide Alarms (UL 2034) or Carbon Monoxide

In most cases the best solution for compliance is to utilize a Carbon Monoxide Detection System. This type of system requires compliance with NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, and can be integrated with the buildings fire alarm system. Since the fire alarm system is electronically supervised for functionality and regularly tested, the system is more likely to perform when it is needed. Any CO alert levels can be transmitted to a Central Station (Fire Alarm Monitoring Company), so potential issues can be identified even when the building is not occupied. Furthermore, educational occupancies require the alarm signal to be transmitted to a location continually monitored by school personnel. The fire alarm system can have a remote annunciator placed in the school office to accomplish this requirement.

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