Yukon to require CO detectors

Yukon hopes to become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with an oil-burning furnace or attached garage.

Yukon hopes to become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with an oil-burning furnace or attached garage.

Some other jurisdictions have similar legislation, such as requiring the devices in new construction, but Yukon would be the first to mandate them across the board, a government spokesperson confirmed.

Five people died in a Porter Creek home in January 2012 from carbon monoxide poisoning. Their chimney had become completely blocked with ice.

The coroner’s inquest into the incident wrapped up earlier this month. The deaths of the Rusk family and their friend Donald McNamee was ruled accidental.

The government has several legislative amendments planned for the spring sitting related to oil furnace and carbon monoxide detector regulation. The changes will affect the Building Standards Act, the Fire Protection Act and the Electrical Protection Act.

In addition to requiring carbon monoxide detectors, all installations and modifications of oil furnaces will be required to be done by a certified mechanic.

However, certification will not be required to perform regular maintenance on furnaces. This goes against the recommendations of a working group on oil furnace safety established last year.

Ministers Elaine Taylor and Scott Kent visited Yukon’s communities last year and heard that the capacity simply doesn’t exist yet outside of Whitehorse.

“Having certified mechanics in every community is the ultimate goal,” said Taylor. “The reality is that we’re not there yet.”

The Education Department is working on training more mechanics in the Yukon and certifying those already working in the field, said Kent.

The government will also develop a public registry of individuals and companies qualified to install oil burning furnaces, he said. People will be able to consult that list if they prefer to have a certified mechanic perform the routine maintenance on their furnace.

Ultimately, the goal will be to require all maintenance to be done by certified professionals, said Kent.

In the meantime, requiring the use of carbon monoxide detectors will provide “inexpensive piece of mind for families,” he said.

This legislative change is the “quickest and most responsive way” to ensure people are safe while training programs continue to roll out, said Kent.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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