Noxious Odor Traced To Corroded Paint Can at West Side Complex

Incident Type
Odor Investigation
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 11:29am
600 Block N. Pleasant View Road
Madison, WI 53713

Engine Company 12 were conducting a building survey at a local apartment complex when they unexpectedly encountered a “pungent eye- and nose-irritating odor.” The noxious smell was discovered when they entered the sprinkler/fire alarm control room at the Brownridge Terrace Apartments on Pleasant View Road.

The crew immediately retreated, closed the door, and retrieved their SENSIT meter from the engine. They put on full turnout gear, including self-contained breathing apparatuses, and re-entered the building.

The SENSIT meter detected elevated levels of explosive gas at the main entryway. Upon re-entering the sprinkler/fire alarm control room, the meter also indicated a small presence (5 parts per million) of carbon monoxide.

The odor did not smell like natural gas or methane, and the crew was having trouble finding the source. MGE joined Engine 12 on scene and ruled out the presence of natural gas.

The Madison Fire Department’s Hazardous Incident Team (HIT) was contacted for further consultation. At the advice of the MFD HIT, Engine 12 ventilated the room in question, and the garage, before re-evaluating the space. This cleared the air temporarily, but the irritating odor soon returned.

After ten more minutes of investigating with monitors, a can of “Pro Finish Precatalyzed Topcoat Spray” was found behind a water softener. The can had corroded and leaked its contents into wet concrete flooring in the area. When monitors were placed in this area, their readings quickly

The can was removed from the garage, and the area was ventilated again, finally putting the issue to rest. A property manager on scene was apprised of the situation, and he assured firefighters he would have the spill cleaned up and flushed with copious amounts of water.

Posted 09/07/2017 - 10:05am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)