New CCO ordinance is making a difference
The City’s new Certificate of Continued Occupancy (“CCO”) ordinance is making homes safer. Under the new law, owners of single and two family homes are required to comply with an inspection “checklist” before obtaining an occupancy certificate required for a sale or rental. The checklist includes smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, handrails, and other safety related items.
In conjunction with the Property Maintenance Division, the City’s Building Housing and Land Use Department has been successful in implementing the ordinance and has uncovered several dwellings with significant safety violations.
In one instance, inspectors were performing an inspection prior to the sale of a home to ensure that it was in compliance with the new ordinances and that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were installed properly. Upon inspection, the detectors signaled the presence of high levels of carbon monoxide. The inspector reset the units, but the alert continued. The inspector then discovered that the chimney was sealed with duct tape to keep out small animals. The blocked chimney prevented the escape of carbon monoxide from a heating unit and a water heater in the basement. In addition, a natural gas leak in the stove and a deteriorated vent on a hot water heater made the situation even more dangerous.
The Fire Department was contacted and upon arrival confirmed high levels of Carbon monoxide. 20 residents were relocated to allow the landlord to make the required repairs to the chimney and heating units.
Inspectors also noted significant overcrowding in this building. Approximately 25 people, including small children and one infant resided at this address. The landlord did not live in the building.
“This situation could have proved disastrous”, said Joseph Mellone, Land Use Administrator for the City of Hackensack. “Carbon Monoxide is colorless and odorless and is known as the ‘silent killer’. Sleeping occupants would have no idea that they were slowly suffocating.” Mr. Mellone added that this type of situation underscores the need for the ordinance. City Manager, Peter Capone, commended City inspectors for the discovering the dangerous condition.
The City strongly encourages residents to periodically check all home heating apparatus and to make sure chimneys are properly vented. Residents should review the CCO checklist for compliance even if no sale or lease is contemplated. In addition, residents may want to review fire prevention tips provided by the United States Fire Administration at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/safety