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Danvers fire chief criticizes response to carbon monoxide leak at apartment complex

Posted by Justin Rice  January 6, 2012 02:05 PM

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A woman was sent to the hospital last month after a carbon monoxide leak at her apartment  was magnified by the fact that the complex's maintenance team had turned off six carbon monoxide monitors when they started making noise.

The crew believed they were malfunctioning, according to Danvers Fire Chief Kevin Farrell, who chastised the manager of the Avalon Danvers apartment complex earlier this week.

“To have six detectors go off, common sense should prevail and you should say ‘Something is wrong here, it’s not right,’ Farrell said during a phone interview this morning. “If it were one detector you thought was faulty, that’s still no excuse not to replace it immediately. 

"The point is it’s common sense, if a detector goes off, I don’t care it it’s a single family home, multifamily home, condo, if a carbon monoxide detector goes off you don’t know it it’s a faulty battery.”

Farrell said when a carbon monoxide detector goes off the fire department should be called because firefighters can tell if it is going off because of a faulty battery or they can determine where the carbon monoxide is coming from.

“There’s really know way of knowing, it’s colorless, it’s odorless, that’s why they call it the silent killer,” he said. “If you call us we can often identify the source of carbon monoxide and minimize it and saves lives. And we may even be able to save you money … because you don’t have to call multiple service providers.”

The management company responded to six residents who complained their detectors went off on Dec. 28. All six were shut off by the maintenance crew, according to Farrell, and they planned to replace them the next day.

 The fire department was only called after a resident, who arrived home well after the other detectors were reported, called the fire department.  

“We're fortunate a woman came home later that evening and found her detector going off,” Farrell said.

Firefighters found a gas-fired water heater leaking carbon monoxide because it was not vented properly, Farrell said. Farrell said when he spoke to the complex’s manager, Steve McGorty, he also told him that the craftsmanship on the hot water heater was poor.

“It’s just a blatant disregard of people in the building,” he said. “How can any licensed plumber allow that to stay the way it was?  … It’s just mind boggling they allowed that to happen.”

Farrell said McGorty assured him that the maintenance employees were not following the proper procedure and they should have called the fire department.

“He said he would have a lengthy discussion with his staff managers and make sure they were all on the same page,” Farrell said.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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