PORTLAND (WGME) – Nearly a month after the deadly explosion in Farmington, a state lawmaker wants to require that certain buildings have gas detectors.
For Maine firefighters, meters and detectors are the first line of defense at gas leak calls. But across the state, most homeowners don’t have the same protections.
“There are no regulations and I just thought that’s crazy — especially with what just happened in Farmington,” Rep. Lois Reckitt, D-South Portland, said.
While smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are commonplace in homes and businesses, gas and propane detectors are not.
“It’s a simple thing. It’s not that costly and it could save lives,” she said.
That is why Reckitt is proposing a new bill that would make gas detectors mandatory in certain buildings.
“What springs to mind is nonprofit organizations, multi-unit dwellings, government agencies,” she said.
While it is still unclear how long the propane line at LEAP in Farmington had been leaking, firefighters say a detector may have prevented the problem from getting worse.
“If it is something that built up over time, a detector could alert us long before it got to the point of becoming explosive,” said Firefighter Jon Keenan of the Westbrook Fire Department.
While new buildings are a focus of her proposal, Reckitt said older buildings and even homes are not off the table
“There’s also a need for existing buildings — particularly those with many people in them. It’s just crazy to me that we wouldn’t try to protect them,” she said.
Firefighters seem to agree.
“I know all the other fire departments in the area are pro anything that’s going to help save lives, help people and help alert us before an emergency happens,” Keenan said.