Lawmaker calls for code changes after fatal carbon monoxide leak at Legal Sea Foods in Walt Whitman Mall

Fire officials say a faulty flue pipe leading from a water heater caused a buildup of carbon monoxide in the basement of the popular restaurant Saturday. (2/24/14)

HUNTINGTON STATION - A Suffolk lawmaker is calling for swift changes to code laws that regulate carbon monoxide detection in public places following the deadly leak at a restaurant in the Walt Whitman Mall.

Legal Sea Foods restaurant manager Steven Nelson was killed and 27 others were sickened in the carbon monoxide leak on Saturday. Investigators say a faulty flue pipe in the restaurant's heating system was to blame. The heating system had passed its inspection last year, and was due to be inspected again in March.

Authorities say the restaurant did not have, and was not required to have, carbon monoxide detectors. Commercial building codes require smoke detectors, but carbon monoxide detectors are not always mandated.

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Suffolk Legislator John Kennedy says he was stunned to learn that businesses aren't always required to have the detectors. He says he's preparing legislation to require all commercial buildings and county-owned facilities to install carbon monoxide detectors.

The costs of such detection systems could present a problem, as installation fees could cost thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Still, Kennedy says it's a worthwhile investment. "What is the value of a life?" the lawmaker said.

Legal Sea Foods' CEO has said he plans to have the detectors installed in his restaurants.

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