New tool alerts firefighters to potentially deadly leak

    Carbon monoxide leak prompts evacuation of Springfield apartment building (WKEF/WRGT)

    SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - A potentially deadly situation at a high-rise apartment building in Springfield was avoided Wednesday morning, thanks to a new device firefighters in town are carrying.

    Crews were called to the Springfield Towers apartments just around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday on a routine medical call. Fire and medical crews now carry carbon monoxide monitors on their medical bags and when they entered the complex on East High Street, the monitors started going off. Assistant Fire Chief for Springfield Matthew Smith said the levels were alarming, "160 parts per million --- danger zone is 35 parts per million, so it got very dangerous."

    The 300 people who live at the complex were evacuated out of the building and into buses which were waiting to shelter them from the cold.

    Smith said firefighters called in extra crews so they could figure out where the leak from coming from. After about three hours, the cause was found and the problem fixed. The problem, according to Columbus Gas, was a malfunctioning water heater. The water heater was shut off and it is being repaired. Firefighters then went room by room and floor by floor to make sure if was safe for residents to go back inside.

    The monitors on the medical bags are a new addition the department just added. Smith said they were added because firefighters have gone into homes that had a CO leak, but residents didn't know. Today the monitors potentially saved many lives, "Allowed the medic unit to say, there's a problem here," Smith said.

    After the incident, ABC 22/FOX 45 asked officials why the apartment complex didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector of its own.

    "Carbon monoxide detectors were not required until the current fire code is updated which is still under the adoption process by the city of Springfield," he said.

    The Ohio Fire Code with the new changes regarding the gas, went into effect January 1, but the department says it takes time to enact.

    "First, it’s the International Fire Code that then is adopted by the state of Ohio and then it’s propagated out by them and then we ask Springfield to adopt it," Smith said.

    The Springfield Code Review Committee will put this up for adoption this month and they hope by next month, the commissioners will approve their request," he continued.

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