Pa­trol ve­hi­cles checked for nox­ious fumes

All SUVs mon­i­tored for car­bon diox­ide af­ter pos­si­ble ex­haust leaks.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Katie Hall khall@states­man.com

Austin po­lice say they’ve had three in­ci­dents in which of­fi­cers re­ported that they smelled ex­haust fumes leak­ing into the cabin of their car, in­clud­ing one on Satur­day in which a sergeant al­most passed out af­ter in­hal­ing car­bon monox­ide.

The in­ci­dents come af­ter Ford is­sued a tech­ni­cal ser­vice bul­letin — which is less ur­gent than a re­call — in De­cem­ber not­ing that the car com­pany “had some con­cerns about pos­si­ble ex­haust leak­ing into some of the Ford Ex­plorer ve­hi­cles, namely mod­els be­tween 2011 and 2015,” Austin po­lice As­sis­tant Chief Ely Reyes said.

Reyes said the three in­ci­dents in­volved two Austin po­lice ve­hi­cles and hap­pened within the past cou­ple of months.

The sergeant in­volved in Satur­day’s in­ci­dent is the only one who has been treated for symp­toms re­lated to car­bon monox­ide. The of­fi­cer was out on the road in South­west Austin when just af­ter mid­night he “felt the symp­toms com­ing on and called for help,” in­terim Po­lice Chief Brian Man­ley has said.

The of­fi­cer was taken by am­bu­lance to a hospi­tal and was later re­leased.

In re­sponse, the city has pur­chased 400 stick­ers that change color when they come into con-

tact with car­bon monox­ide and will place them in all of its Ford Ex­plor­ers, Reyes said. City staff mem­bers will later in­stall car­bon monox­ide alarms in the ve­hi­cles.

Of­fi­cials will send the two po­lice ve­hi­cles with re­ported prob­lems to Ford to be in­spected and make any nec­es­sary re­pairs, Reyes said. Po­lice of­fi­cials are not plan­ning to have any of the depart­ment’s other 360 Ford Ex­plor­ers in­spected or can­cel a pending or­der for nine new Ford Ex­plor­ers, he said.

“We are hope­ful that with the short-term and long-term so­lu­tions we have in place, we’ll en­sure the safety of our of­fi­cers and that our city fleet will con­tinue work­ing with Ford on iden­ti­fy­ing the is­sues and get­ting our ve­hi­cles the re­pairs needed,” Reyes said.

Ford Ex­plor­ers have been un­der na­tional scru­tiny for pos­si­bly al­low­ing ex­haust fumes to leak in­side the SUVs. Ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports, gases are most likely to be re­leased when the car is ac­cel­er­at­ing or when the air con­di­tion­ing is on.

In one case that has re­ceived re­cent na­tional at­ten­tion, a New­port Beach, Calif., po­lice of­fi­cer claims he was se­verely in­jured when he crashed his pa­trol unit into a light pole. He has said doc­tors could find no other rea­son for the crash.

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