An incident of carbon monoxide poisoning has prompted the Quebec Fire Chiefs Association to put pressure on the province's building authority to make detectors mandatory.

A family of four in Quebec's Beauce region spent six hours in hospital recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning after a gas leak in their home went unnoticed.

Gilles Lamadeleine, the executive director of the Quebec Fire Chiefs Association said municipalities should adopt laws to make it mandatory for residents to have up-to-date detectors.

A spokesman for the Quebec Building Authority said a new safety code will be adopted next year and will require seniors' homes to have carbon monoxide detectors.

Between 1989 and 2001, an average of 13 people a year died of poisoning because of the fumes. About 30 per cent of these deaths occurred while people were at home.

Family members suddenly ill

Nicolas Gerald said he realized something was wrong when everyone in his family fell sick at the same time. The family lives in the basement of the seniors' home they run in Saint-Frédéric, south of Quebec City.

Gerald's two daughters, 3 and 5, started crying before going to bed last night. The eldest child eventually fell asleep, but the toddler continued to cry, then fainted and vomited later on in the evening.

Gerald said he and his wife also suffered from severe headaches. That's when he knew something wasn't right.

"We couldn't be all sick at the same time," he said.

Gerald thought to check on the new natural gas furnace he had bought one week ago. When he opened the door to the furnace room, Gerald said he saw gas coming out and water coming down from the chimney.

He said it took several calls to the company that sold him the furnace before Gaz Métro showed up at the family's home.

Employees told him there was an "extremely high' level of gas in the house. Luckily, they were able to turn off the furnace before the gas reached the upper two levels of the home, where the senior residents live.

If it hadn't been for his three-year-old daughter, Gerald says the whole family might have gone to bed without a second thought.

"It's extremely scary, when you think overnight, an entire family would have been wiped out," he said.

All members of the Gerald family are recovering after spending six hours receiving oxygen treatments in the hospital.

Gerald said he is frustrated that Boucher Lortie, the company that sold him the furnace, didn't suggest installing a carbon monoxide detector.

Marco Boucher, the company's president, said the installation was done correctly. He suspects there may have been a problem with the chimney.