Calgary fire crews discover elevated carbon monoxide levels in south west high rise
Just after 8:30 on Tuesday morning, emergency crews were called to a residential high rise building located on Horton Road for a critical medical intervention. The initial emergency call was for an individual reporting breathing problems related to a pre-existing condition. Upon entry into the patient's suite, the fire crew's portable gas monitor activated indicating levels of carbon monoxide of 183 parts per million. The firefighters quickly moved the patient via his wheelchair out of the suite and brought him to the lobby, assessing him en route. EMS arrived moments later to care for and transport the patient to hospital.
Fire crews commenced an evacuation of the building by activating the fire alarm system. Firefighters then used the intercom system to alert residents to the carbon monoxide (CO) emergency. Calgary Transit busses were brought to the scene to shelter evacuees from the frigid temperatures.
Fire crews went floor to floor to assist with the evacuation and monitor the air. They found carbon monoxide levels as high as 400 parts per million in some areas. Some units did appear to have stand alone CO alarms which were beeping however those suites were not believed to be occupied at the time of the emergency.
An investigation for the source of the CO found that a fresh air intake on the roof had frozen over thus creating a buildup of the poisonous gas. Firefighters ventilated the building and residents were allowed back in once readings of CO were back at zero. The Property Management Company with their mechanical contractor also arrived on scene to ensure residents' continued safety.
Approximately 150 people were temporarily displaced but are now back in their suites. No injuries were reported as a result of this incident.
Additional resources called to the incident included Calgary Police officers and EMS personnel.
Calgary Fire Department would like to remind citizens of the following safety tips for your family and home:
- Ensure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home. Test them every month
- Have a home escape plan with a designated meeting place and make sure everyone in the family is aware of what to do in an emergency
- When using space heaters, keep three feet (one metre) clearance from anything that can burn and turn them off when leaving the room or going to bed
- Ensure your furnace and exhaust vents are free of snow and ice. Carbon monoxide (CO) can build up within your home if the vents are blocked. CO is colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-irritating. If undetected, it can be lethal
- Never use barbecues, camping heaters, gas or coal stoves or a generator indoors. Only use them outdoors and away from windows and doors
For more information on home safety visit www.calgary.ca/fire