Skip directly to content

New CO Code from NFPA

Code requirements from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) relating to new carbon monoxide (CO) alarm and detector requirements

In the 2012 code edition of NFPA life safety code 101 and Fire Code 1, CO alarms and detectors requirements are specified. The location are specified as outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms and on every level that is occupied, including basements but excluding attics and crawl spaces. 

In my opinion and as stated in all Quantum’s alarm and detector manuals and websites, Quantum believes that each and every sleeping area with a door should have the alarm in the bedroom.  Otherwise if someone closes the door the noise at the sleeping area will not wake up many people and serious injuries or death may occur!  We have argued for this position, but the codes are not quite there yet.

The NFPA 720 covers how to install these alarms and detectors in new construction such as in:

1.) Single and double-family dwellings please see Chapter 24

2.) Hotels, motels and dormitories please see Chapter 28

3.) Apartment buildings is covered in Chapter 30

4.) Other types of lodging, Bed and Breakfast, rooming houses are covered in Chapter 26

5) Child and infant day-care facilities are covered in Chapter 16

It is necessary to have carbon monoxide alarms and/or detectors in all the above occupancies if they contain fuel-burning appliance or when they have an attached garage.

The most important requirement, which changes how we install these alarms is that you must have 75 dB AT THE PILLOW.  In my opinion, to accomplish this reliably you must install the alarm in the bedroom or sleeping area.  Otherwise if the person closes the door to the bedroom with the alarm immediately outside will not work. People may be killed or seriously injured.  Another way to meet this 75 dB requirement at the pillow is (more expensive and a waste of time) to install a second 75 dB alarm or at the bed next to the pillow.  This could be just an alarm with a interconnect of some kind.

There are a few other locations that need CO alarms and/or detectors must be installed in certain non-sleeping locations in hotels, dormitories and apartment buildings such as on the ceiling above all rooms containing fuel-burning appliances.  In addition the code requires that alarms and/or detectors be located within rooms, which are connected by an HVAC system, next to the first air supply register and close to its center line.

Normal residential CO detectors are designed to function in conditioned space; however, garages, attics are not conditioned spaces and must contain only alarms or detectors tested for the unconditioned space.