Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are possible sources of Carbon Monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Exposure

CO replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.

  • Mild Exposure - Mild effects include symptoms similar to flu such as headache, nausea and vomiting.

  • Medium Exposure - More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, severe headache, drowsiness, confusion and an increased heart rate.

  • Extreme Exposure - Extreme symptoms can cause unconsciousness, convulsions, cardio respiratory failure, and death.

Massachusetts Law regarding Carbon Monoxide Detectors

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 148 Section 26 Fl/2, Massachusetts Fire Prevention Code 527 CMR 1.00 c 13 regulates the placement of CO detection in dwelling units. Regulations apply "to every dwelling, building or structure occupied in whole or in part for residential purposes, that: (1) contains fossil fuel burning equipment or (2) incorporates enclosed parking within its structure."

In summary, effective March 31, 2006, the regulation applies to dwellings; buildings or structures occupied in whole or in part for residential purposes that contain fossil fuel burning equipment or has enclosed parking. The owner, landlord or superintendent shall equip these dwelling buildings or structures with working listed carbon monoxide alarms.


The carbon monoxide alarm shall be located in each level of a dwelling unit including finished basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. (Check manufacturer's requirements for installation instructions.) The types of carbon monoxide detectors allowed are:

  • Battery operated

  • Plug in with battery back up

  • Hard wired with battery back up

  • Low voltage or wireless

  • Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms/detectors.
    (Note that these are required to be photoelectric smoke detectors if located within 20 ft. of a kitchen or bathroom.) 

CO Alarms

Purchase only alarms listed by a qualified independent testing laboratory meeting the requirements of IAS/CAS 6.19 or UL 2034. Install, test, and maintain CO alarms as specified by the manufacturer's instructions.

In compliance with Massachusetts State Law (527 CMR 1.00 c 13), a CO alarm shall be installed in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping area, not to exceed 10 ft. in any direction from any bedroom door.

Call the Boston Fire Department at 911 if your CO alarm sounds.

Replace the battery per the manufacturer's instructions. The BFD recommends twice a year when you change your clocks.

Alternative Compliance Option

Large buildings with multiple dwelling units that contain minimal or no sources of CO inside the individual units are required to install hard wired detectors. These buildings may provide protection in the following areas of the structure: 1) Areas or rooms containing centralized fossil fuel burning equipment such as boiler rooms, hot water heaters, central laundry areas and all adjacent spaces. 2) Adjacent spaces of enclosed parking.

Safety Checklist

CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Make sure the dwelling has working smoke alarms that are located in accordance with the minimum required locations. It is recommended that working smoke detectors be located on every level and directly inside all sleeping rooms.

Make sure CO and Smoke alarms are tested regularly. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms. Have an escape plan for emergencies and practice the plan with all members of the dwelling (household) regularly, at least twice a year.


Latest Fire Prevention News

  • Just to get you there a little faster

    Quick Links below:

    2016 Registered Cleaners and Inspectors

    Request a paid fire detail

    Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Inspection

  • The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy is offering a Nightclub Fire Safety Program

    designed to deliver an overview of nightclub fire safety laws and regulations for fire and building officials, as well as all owners and managers.  Please read for more information

    Nightclub Fire Safety Program

  • Summertime & BBQ Safety Tips from Boston Fire

    Think "safety first" when planning your summer activities and barbecues. Boston Fire has some helpful summer safety tips available and reminds residents of important summertime regulations in the City.

    Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals

    Summary of Massachusetts Fireworks Law MGL Chapter 148, S. 39

    Barbecue Safety Information

    Summer Safety Tips

  • New Air Pressurized Standpipe Requirements

    In the City of Boston during constuction or demolition in high rise buildings (70 feet or higher) an air pressurized standpipe is required to be in place in the building. The effective date for this requirement in Boston is on all construction applications received from August 15, 2015 on.  Please read the documents below for more information.

    Air Pressurized Dry Standpipe Summary

    Requirements for Air Pressurized Standpipes

  • Hazardous Material Process or Processing

    Read below for all information required to be in compliance when processessing hazardous materials as defined under 527 CMR 1.00 c 60.

    Hazardous Material Process or Processing

    Form FP 300

    Form FP 310 - Fire Department's Inspector Checklist

  • A new Comprehensive Model Fire Code (527 CMR 1.00) has been adopted by the Division of Fire Services and the State Fire Marshal's Office effective January 1, 2015 replacing the current 527 CMR.

    The new code adopts, in large part, the National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) Model Fire Code (NFPA-1- 2012 Edition), with Massachusetts amendments. The new code should result in an improved, more comprehensive fire safety code, using consensus standards recognized throughout the nation. This new code will replace the current 527 CMR. More information can be obtained by visiting the Department of Fire Services website.

  • New Ordinance Enacted in Boston

    Regulating the use and sale of outdoor cooking appliances, outdoor patio and space heaters, outdoor decorative appliances, and outdoor fireplaces. On July 30, 2014 the Boston City Council amended the Boston Fire Prevention Code by passing Article XXXIII of the Boston Fire Prevention Code.

    Article XXXIII of the Boston Fire Prevention Code

  • Candle Usage Guidelines, Definitions and Application for Candle Usage in a Place of Assembly

    Read the new Candle Guidelines that are in effect October 1, 2012. The Boston Fire Department requires that the use of candles in a Place of Assembly be permitted as defined in the attached document.

    Candle Usage Guidelines, Definitions and Application for Candle Usage in a Place of Assembly

  • Effective April 1, 2014 Boston has a Revised Upholstered Furniture, Molding Seating and Re-upholstered Furniture Policy

    Effective April 1, 2014 the Boston Fire Department shall modify its upholstered seating regulations to more closely align with the current state regulations: 527 CMR 1.00 c 12, "Upholstered Furniture, Molded Seating and Re-upholstered Furniture.  This change will effectively reduce the number of regulated use groups in the City of Boston.

    Although this modified policy closely follows the requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Regulations, there are still some notable exceptions that shall be strictly enforced.  This policy is subject to modification at the discretion of the Boston Fire Marshal.

    More Chemist Information

  • Important gas safety information for residents of Hyde Park from Eversource

    Eversource delivers natural gas safely and reliably to customers in the neighborhood of Hyde Park. We ask those residents especially to take a moment to review the following important gas safety information regarding pipeline operations and safety:

    Eversource gas safety information


Related Links