Few congressional bills, out of thousands proposed, find their way into law. A smaller number of those deal in specific areas of interest to ESA members and industry officials. One such bill that has a chance of passage in 2016 relates to encouraging states to require the installation of residential carbon monoxide detectors in homes. It also has component parts that cite the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Underwriters Labs (UL) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all of whom ESA works very closely with on industry standards.
On Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed and reported to the full Senate for final consideration, S. 1250, the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015. ESA has been supporting the industry on this bill, especially the Security Industry Association and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, both of which urged the Committee to pass S.1250. Different versions of this bill have passed through committees in other Congresses but never made it to the White House. In fact, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the original sponsor, worked on this bill unsuccessfully for many years. However, 2016 poses an opportunity for the bill.
The bill would allocate up to $8 million from 2016 to 2020 in grants to states for activities including purchasing and installing carbon monoxide alarms, training for fire code enforcement officials, developing and disseminating training materials and educating the public on the risks of devices not secured in the home.
- The bill uses a “carrot” approach to provide $2 million annually for four years to “entice” states to adopt a statute or regulation determined by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for carbon monoxide alarms to comply with NFPA 720 (and ANSI/UL 2034 & 2075)
- The bill requires a State that received grants to require installation of these "compliant carbon monoxide alarms" for purchasing and installing them in dwelling units, low-income or elderly households, child care and public schools
- The grants can be used to educate the public on carbon monoxide poisoning (not more than 25% of any grant amount), develop training materials, and train local fire code enforcement officials and the purchase and installation of the devices
While this one bill is not giving away billions of dollars, and it has not yet passed through the Senate or the House on the way to the President for signature into law, it does bring out an important point. In the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee there was bipartisan support for the bill’s passage and it seems to be on its way. It also brings out the key point that Congress can be very detailed in its review of NFPA, ANSI and UL standards to support technologies that impact the day-top-day operations of ESA members, associates and the public they serve. More will be on the way and ESA is watching out for its members as they appear.