Fire chief hopes Car­bon Monox­ide de­tec­tor use grows

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS -

An ini­tia­tive to in­stall car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors in all Saskatchew­an health fa­cil­i­ties is a pos­i­tive ini­tia­tive that will hope­fully be fol­lowed even by peo­ple in pri­vate res­i­dences.

The prov­ince an­nounced on Jan. 13 that car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors are be­ing added to all health fa­cil­i­ties as a mea­sure to re­duce the risk of be­ing ac­ci­den­tally ex­posed to car­bon monox­ide.

The ini­tia­tive comes in re­sponse to the deaths of two long-term care fa­cil­ity res­i­dents in Hum­boldt where car­bon monox­ide build-up was a fac­tor in their deaths.

The prov­ince points out that Health Re­gion fa­cil­ity man­agers are cur­rently in the process of buy­ing and in­stalling stan­dard res­i­den­tial car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors. The prov­ince and the Health Re­gions will also seek ex­pert ad­vice about the type, num­ber, lo­ca­tion, and in­te­gra­tion of CO mon­i­tors needed in their build­ings, and de­velop longer-term plans to pro­tect again car­bon monox­ide.

“It is a good thing. It’s fan­tas­tic that they’re do­ing that,” Swift Cur­rent Fire Depart­ment Fire Chief De­nis Pilon said af­ter learn­ing about the pro­vin­cial ini­tia­tive.

“Car­bon Monox­ide is colour­less, odor­less. There is no way of know­ing it’s in your house other than a de­tec­tor. So you need to have one.”

Car­bon Monox­ide prob­lems oc­cur in fuel-burn­ing ap­pli­ances like fur­naces and wa­ter heaters if they are not vented prop­erly or if they are not burn­ing prop­erly. Ve­hi­cles idling in en­closed garages are also lo­ca­tions where car­bon monox­ide is present, and even ve­hi­cles run­ning with the garage door wide open can have prob­lems oc­cur when ex­haust fumes are pushed into the home.

Chief Pilon noted that the cur­rent build­ing code only re­quires car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors out­side the bed­room in newly con­structed homes, and other homes be­ing retro­fit­ted also re­quire an up­grade to in­clude car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors. How­ever, these reg­u­la­tions do not ap­ply to ex­ist­ing build­ings, and there is noth­ing in the fire code ei­ther for car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors.

When Pilon was Fire Chief in Wey­burn he re­calls a tragic in­stance of the dangers of car­bon monox­ide in the late 1990s when one in­di­vid­ual died in a pri­vate res­i­dence af­ter a chim­ney had col­lapsed be­cause of a lack of main­te­nance. Fur­nace gases were be­ing pumped into the house in­stead of be­ing vented out the chim­ney re­sult­ing in the fa­tal­ity.

Chief Pilon notes that mem­bers of the Swift Cur­rent Fire Depart­ment re­sponds to an av­er­age of two or three calls per month to check car­bon monox­ide lev­els.

He said that home­own­ers who have a car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tor alarm go off, they at­tend homes uti­liz­ing sen­si­tive equip­ment that is cal­i­brated on a weekly ba­sis.

“When we come and do a test we’re com­ing with a cal­i­brated me­ter thats got a lot more technology than the one you’ve got on your wall. The one that you’ve got on your wall is just telling you there is some­thing wrong that you need to get checked out.

“And that some­thing wrong might be a dead bat­tery, or it might be a faulty de­tec­tor, or it might be that you’ve got some­thing in the air. If it’s beep­ing, give us a call. We’ll gladly come.”

“I’d sooner re­spond and find out there’s noth­ing in the air, than have to go haul a body out of a build­ing, and I’ve done that. It’s never nice do­ing that.”

He said this im­por­tant safety mea­sure is one that should not be over­looked.

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