Calgary, AB,

Calgary fire crews respond to a north west building for carbon monoxide emergency

Nine patients transported to hospital by EMS

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Thursday February 4, an alarm technician was called to a commercial building at the 2500 block of Kensington Road N.W. to investigate the cause of an alarm which had activated in the basement mechanical room.  The worker discovered the alarm to be a carbon monoxide alarm and immediately called 9-1-1. 

When fire crews arrived on the scene, they evacuated the entire building.  ATCO was called to the scene and fire crews started ventilating the three story structure to bring carbon monoxide (CO) levels down.  Portable gas detection devices carried by firefighters recorded readings as high as 440 parts per million (ppm) in some areas of the building.  Levels that high can become life threatening after approximately three hours. Of the eleven evacuees, nine were transported to hospital by EMS. 

The  source of the CO is believed to be due to a problem with the ventilation system and the furnace. Building management will be making the appropriate repairs as soon as possible.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no colour, smell or taste. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as become confused, tired and lose consciousness.

If you or anyone near you experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning or your CO alarm goes off, you should leave your residence or building and call 9-1-1. Do not go back inside until the Fire Department tells you it is safe to do so.

CO alarms provide the only warning of dangerous CO gas in your home or workplace. Test CO alarms once a month by pressing the alarm’s test button to hear if the alarm will sound. If your alarm uses batteries, be sure to replace the batteries once a year. Some manufacturers make alarms that have a 10 year lithium battery and thus do not require replacement.

Here are some tips on how to prevent CO buildup in your home:

  • Make sure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before you start to use them, usually when the weather gets cold.
  • Make sure your vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use gas and charcoal barbecues outdoors, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings. Never use barbecues inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Only use portable fuel-burning generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings. Follow manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Make sure to open the flue of your fireplace before you use it.
  • Never run a vehicle or other gas motor inside a garage, even if the garage door is open. Always drive your vehicle out of the garage right after starting it.
  • Install CO alarms according to the directions on and pay attention to the clearance requirements.

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