Restaurant Law Blog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

NYC Restaurants May Be Required to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A New York City lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that will require all New York City bars and restaurants to install carbon monoxide detectors. Coincidentally, City Councilman James Vacca co-sponsored this legislation several weeks ago, but he is now seeking to expedite it after it was reported that a leak at a New York restaurant last week resulted in the death of the manager and sickened more than two dozen other people.

Vacca is hoping to prioritize the bill, aiming for the council committee to pass it as soon as possible. The councilman said this potential law should never have been omitted, as restaurants and bars present the same dangers in terms of carbon monoxide poisoning as private homes. New York State fire codes only require carbon monoxide detectors in places where people sleep.

Police evacuated the Legal Sea Foods restaurant located in the Walt Whitman Shops on Long Island after they received reports that a woman had collapsed in the basement of the establishment. A spokesman for the Town of Huntington, where the restaurant is located, said investigators found a leak in the flue pipe of the water heater.

The town official who inspected the restaurant last March didn't find any issues. Legal Sea Foods was due for another inspection in March, as it is subject to them annually. Although authorities said the carbon monoxide appeared to be limited to the basement of the restaurant, the entire restaurant and surrounding businesses were evacuated Saturday.

Local plumbing and heating experts say that they are unsure why it wasn't previously mandated that carbon monoxide detectors be installed anywhere people gather. It may be New York State law to have one in private residences, but it won't be a requirement by law for restaurants and bars until the passing of this bill.

Legal Sea Foods and nearby Panera Bread can't reopen until the town's plumbing inspector confirms there are no leaks and gives the restaurants proper certification.

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