October is Fire Safety Month – are you up to date?

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By Vicki Aubry

Vicki Aubry, Realtor, ABR, SRES

It's no accident that heating season and Fire Safety Month come at the same time! October is a great time to take stock of items around your home that may need attention and to do some safety updates to your home.

You might have missed this last year but as of July 1, 2010 (for one- to four-family residences), if you have oil heat you must upgrade your home heating system equipment to prevent leaks from tanks and pipes that connect to your furnace.

What must be done is to install an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve. This can be done by a licensed oil burner technician. The purpose is to avoid costly oil spills that can result leaving homeowners with a large clean up bill. In conjunction with the insurance companies offering homeowners insurance, they must offer their policy holders insurance for cleaning up such a leak in their homes, but additionally offer “third party coverage” for the cost of dealing with a clean up affecting groundwater or someone else's property. Homes built after 1990 have a good chance of already having these, but older homes most likely will not unless the homeowner took steps prior to having the installation done.

Also, as of April 5, 2010, MGL c. 148 26F updates the smoke detector law for residences with five or less residential units. This latest update affects residences that were built or modified prior to the creation of the Massachusetts State Building Code (January 1, 1975). It is the date of the building permit that determines the smoke detector requirements. For residences permitted after January 1, 1975, the upgrade is recommended, but not required. This change was made due to the many false alarms associated with smoke detectors installed near kitchens and bathrooms.

Essentially, now for these properties all smoke detectors installed within 20 feet of kitchens or bathrooms containing a bath or shower will be required to be photoelectric detectors. You must use either a dual detector containing both ionization and photoelectric technologies or two separate detectors – one photoelectric and one ionization.

Placement for these is required on every habitable level of your home – on the ceiling of each stairway and on the ceiling outside each separate sleeping area. They can be battery powered or hardwired and must comply with the above change in the law.

For homes permitted between 1975 and August 27, 1997, the code requires that they must be hardwired and there must also be a minimum of one installed for every 1,200 square feet of living space per level. For homes permitted after August 27, 1997, the law is amended to require one in every bedroom and be hardwired with batter backup, as well.

The carbon monoxide requirement as of 2006 requires that homes that have either “fossil fuel” burning equipment or an attached garage have carbon monoxide detectors. One on every level of the residence is required, including “habitable” portions of the basement and attic and must be within 10 feet bedroom door. Check with your local fire department to be sure you have all your bases covered as the fee for inspection can be pricy, especially if you don's pass the first time and have to schedule another inspection! And you have to pass to sell!

Better safe than sorry as my mother used to say. More information can be obtained at www.mass.gov or give me a call when you'se ready to sell and I can help you through!

Vicki Aubry can be contacted by mobile at 508-868-3625, voicemail pager at 508-365-4060, e-mail at [email protected] and her web site www.VickiAubry.com.