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Carbon monoxide detectors

Some of the many types of carbon monoxide detectors available for sale are pictured. LaPorte became the first Indiana community requiring carbon monoxide detectors in new residential construction. Other Northwest Indiana communities have not yet won approval for their ordinances from the Indiana Fire Prevention & Building Safety Commission.

Bob Kasarda, The Times

Michigan City's ongoing efforts to require carbon monoxide detectors in residential properties was met with opposition early last month from the Indiana Apartment Association.

The group objected to the city's attempts to go it alone with its requirements for detectors in multifamily buildings, such as apartments and nursing homes.

"IAA and its members continues to believe it is best to have statewide codes, especially when thinking that every local community could instead review and adopt their own codes which would create inconsistency throughout the state," the group said in a Nov. 2 letter to the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission.

The commission signs off on local carbon monoxide ordinances.

IAA President Lynne Petersen said Friday that reference to carbon monoxide detectors was intentionally removed from the commercial building code during the last statewide update in 2014.

The multifamily reference has since been removed from Michigan City's ordinance as well, but final approval of the proposal continues to be held up by the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission.

The commission unanimously voted Tuesday to reject the city's proposed ordinance, after having tabled it earlier. A proposal from Chesterton had been rejected Oct. 3.

Others seeking approval are Porter and St. Joseph counties.

All of the proposals would require carbon monoxide detectors in new home construction, with St. Joseph County adding existing rentals, nursing homes and hotels/motels.

LaPorte is the only community in the state to win approval thus far, yet had to make three attempts, according to Dot Kesling, founder of the Lindsey O'Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation that advocates for carbon monoxide poisoning awareness.

Indiana is one of just four states without a statewide requirement for carbon monoxide detectors, she has said.

Petersen said she would have to see a statewide proposal for carbon monoxide detectors before she was able to say what stand her organization would take. There are several variables that need to be considered, she said, such as the required locations, number and decibels of the detectors.

Her group argued last month that the Michigan City proposal lacked the protections for property owners found in the requirements for smoke detectors. Renters need to sign off that smoke detectors are working when they move in, and it is up to them to maintain the equipment.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas emitted from furnaces, gas water heaters, stoves, fireplaces and exhaust from automobiles, generators and other gasoline-powered engines, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Michigan City Fire Marshal Kyle Kazmierczak last week said he was extremely frustrated by the commission, which he described as "inept" since it primarily is made up of building and construction industry representatives and includes only two firefighters.

"Until there's parity there these ordinances will never be enacted," Kazmierczak said. "What they're doing, in my opinion, is trying to draw it out as long as possible so we just go away."

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Porter/LaPorte county reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.