Recent natural gas explosions have prompted legislation that would require gas leak detectors in New Jersey dwellings.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector (Credit: Mike Rachel)

Recent explosions in Point Pleasant and Stafford township leveled houses and injured residents. In addition,  a woman died in a gas blast in Ewing about a year ago.

NJ Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (all (R-Ocean County) are co-sponsoring a bill to require gas leak sensors that would warn residents when there are unsafe levels of methane or propane gas in the air.

"We understand that there's a cost involved. But when you weigh that against the potential loss of life and property, injuries, etc., we think the balance is struck in favor of safety," McGuckin said.

Under the proposed bill, requirements for explosive gas detectors would be similar to laws for carbon monoxide detectors. Inspectors issuing certificates of occupancy for sales or rentals would be required to make sure detectors for carbon monoxide and explosive gas have been properly installed. The legislation, however, would permit a single device that can detect both types of gasses. The law would also apply to every unit in a hotel or multiple dwelling, according to lawmakers.

"The technology is improving to the point where these are readily available, they are inexpensive.  I think the cost that I saw was $40 at Home Depot," McGuckin said.

According to Holzapfel, even though natural gas is safe for heating homes, there are still dangers.

"While the use of natural gas and propane for heating and cooking in our homes is extremely safe, the recent house explosions in Point Pleasant Beach and Stafford Township have reminded us that gas leaks do pose some risk," he said.

When asked whether there would be funding made available to help those with limited means purchase the detectors, McGuckin said it isn't likely.

"We view it as similar to a smoke detector. And there was a similar arguement made when smoke detectors were mandated, and we understand that cost," he said. "But when it gets to the point where the technology is so good and the cost is so little, it seems an appropriate time now, facing these tragedies to strike while the iron is hot and see if we can get this past."