Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms by July 1, 2011 - IT’S THE LAW!

Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms By July 1, 2011 IT’S THE LAW!!! (PDF)

In accordance with California Senate Bill, SB183, California State Fire Marshal Approved carbon monoxide alarms are required to be installed in residential occupancies that meet certain criteria (see below) by July 1, 2011.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that is created by the incomplete combustion of carbon fuels, such as natural gas, wood, propane, gasoline, etc., and may be caused by faulty or improperly vented appliances. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), CO poisoning is the nation’s leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths. More than 400 people die due to CO poisoning each year in the U.S.

There have been a number of incidents in San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area in the past year in which visitors and/or residents were either killed or seriously injured. The San Francisco Fire Department recommends evacuating the building and calling 911 if your carbon monoxide alarm indicates a presence of CO.

SB183 Deadlines:

Install CO Alarms by July 1, 2011 – All existing and new one and two family dwellings in which fuel-burning appliances (non-electric) are installed and/or in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Install CO Alarms by January 1, 2013 – All existing and new multi-unit residential buildings that meet the same criteria.

Required Locations within Dwelling Unit:

Residential buildings shall have CO alarms installed:

  • Outside of each sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s)
  • On every level of the dwelling unit including basements

Hotels and motels shall have CO alarms installed:

  • On the ceiling of sleeping units with permanently installed fuel-burning appliances.

Allowable Types of CO Alarms, Required Power Source, Installation Protocol and Agency Approval:

CO alarms that are solely battery powered are acceptable for installation in existing buildings where the wall coverings are not removed for construction purposes.

For new construction, CO alarms must be powered by the building’s wiring system, be interconnected, and have battery back-up.

CO Alarms installed in California are required to be approved by the California State Fire Marshal (CSFM).

Some CO alarms are wall-mounted and some are ceiling-mounted. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Combination CO/Smoke Alarms are available and may be used as long as they are CSFM approved.

CO alarms have a limited lifespan (varies by alarm) and must be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Homeowners should maintain the records of the date they installed the alarm as well as a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions.

Like smoke alarms, CO alarms should be tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Batteries should be replaced at least annually.
Invest in the safety of your family!

The SF Department of Building Inspection is the enforcement agency in San Francisco for the new CO alarm law.  For questions and technical assistance, please contact the DBI Hotline: (415) 558-6205.


Buy, install, and maintain California State Fire Marshal Approved smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
They may very well save your life and the lives of your family members!