All Yukon residences with a fuel-burning device or an attached garage now require carbon monoxide alarms, thanks to new regulations that came into effect this month.
Oil-fired appliances and fuel oil storage tanks must also now be installed and modified by certified oil-burner mechanics.
These regulations have been a long time coming. The Oil-Fired Appliance Safety Statutory Amendment Act, which set out the new rules, was unanimously passed in May 2013. The new legislation came after three adults and two children died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Porter Creek home in January 2012.
But the changes were not legally binding until the regulations came into effect this month.
Dennis Berry, assistant deputy minister of protective services, said the time lag is “in some ways… positive,” because it gave people working in the industry the chance to get certified as oil-burner mechanics.
“If we had brought the regulations in the day after the act was passed… people would have had trouble meeting them.”
Yukon College launched its oil burner mechanic program in the summer of 2013 to boost the number of certified mechanics in the territory. The college provides in-school courses and apprenticeship training for students. Tradespeople with at least 8,100 hours of experience as oil burner mechanics can take an interprovincial exam to be certified directly.
Berry said there were 13 apprentices in the territory as of November, and there are probably at least 13 certified mechanics currently working.
The government is also preparing a registry of oil burner mechanics.
Certified mechanics are now required to install and modify oil-fired appliances and fuel tanks. But certification isn’t required for servicing and maintenance. When the act was passed in 2013, the government said that was because it would take time to make sure there was a certified mechanic in every community who could do the maintenance.
Under the new regulations, homeowners must also ensure that fire and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working.
Berry said fire alarms have been required in new homes in Canada since the 1980s, and carbon monoxide detectors have been required in new homes since 2005 under the National Building Code.
But the new regulations are retroactive.
“If you owned a house that was built in the ‘60s and you’re not required to have those things, you are required to have them now,” Berry explained.
Though the rules have only just taken effect, Berry said the government has been working to educate people about carbon monoxide for the last three years, partly through its Seriously Simple campaign.
“We’ve given out thousands of detectors across the Yukon,” he said. “We have attempted to get CO detectors and smoke alarms in the hands of every Yukoner.”
Berry said Yukon and Ontario are the only jurisdictions in Canada that now require a carbon monoxide detector in every home with a fuel-burning device or an attached garage.
“We’re leading Canada,” he said. “It’s a good example of a well-designed policy going forward to practice.”
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