Alarm Uncovers Dangerous Carbon Monoxide Situation In Downtown Parking Garage
Firefighters are reminding the public about the importance of carbon monoxide alarms, and what to do when you hear an alarm, following a pair of incidents in recent days.
On Monday night, Engine Co. 1 responded to the La Ville apartments (431 W. Gorham Street) at 10:35 p.m. for reports of carbon monoxide alarms sounding. There was no evacuation in progress upon firefighters’ arrival. The crew could hear the alarm sounding in a first floor hallway. One occupant stated the alarm had been going off for about an hour and was “really annoying” so they eventually called 911.
Initial readings on the crew’s air monitor showed carbon monoxide (CO) levels at 20 parts per million (ppm) in the first floor hallway. When firefighters entered the underground parking garage, readings began to rise to about 110 ppm. There were no cars running and no smell of exhaust, which are common sources of carbon monoxide in garages. Firefighters continued their investigation.
The crew eventually located a garage heater, and that’s where CO levels appeared to be in highest concentrations. The crew turned off the heater, opened the garage door, and watched the CO levels dissipate on their handheld air monitors. They opened other doors and set up a fan to help ventilate the rest of the parking garage and the first floor while awaiting the arrival of MGE.
MGE technicians confirmed the heater was the source of the carbon monoxide leak. Together with MFD, they turned on heater back on. Readings directly next to the appliance quickly rose to 2,000 parts per million. Outside exhaust also registered at 2,000 parts per million. The heater was immediately placed out of service, and building maintenance was contacted about the problem.
The incident comes just two days after another CO incident at a west side residence.
Safety Reminders: Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm. CO alarms are our best defense in detecting this deadly colorless, odorless gas. When we breathe in carbon monoxide, it gradually replaces the oxygen in our bloodstream. Limited exposure to carbon monoxide can result in mild symptoms of illness such as headache and nausea, but if exposed to the gas long enough, it can result in collapse, loss of consciousness, and even death.
When you hear a carbon monoxide alarm, get outside and call 911.