Great Barrington — Fire Chief Charles Burger reports that the Great Barrington Fire Department responded to a carbon monoxide incident at a residence today, and is warning all residents to take proper safety precautions against CO poisoning.
On Sunday, Nov. 5, at approximately 1 p.m., the Great Barrington Fire Department was dispatched to 232 Stockbridge Rd. after the Fairview Hospital reported they had admitted three patients with carbon monoxide poisoning who lived at that address.
Upon arrival, firefighters found high levels of carbon monoxide outside the front door of the building, which has a business on the first floor and four apartments on the second and third floors. The building was immediately evacuated.
The Great Barrington Fire Department took an additional carbon monoxide reading inside the building, which indicated there was 1000 PPM of CO in the basement and levels over 200 PPM throughout the rest of the building. An on-scene investigation indicated that a malfunctioning furnace was the source of the carbon monoxide. The furnace was shut off and the entire building was properly ventilated.
Southern Berkshire Ambulance arrived on scene to assess all remaining occupants of the building. Five people were treated at a local hospital and are listed in stable condition. Fire units cleared the scene shortly after 3 p.m. with the assistance from the Great Barrington Police Department and members of the Great Barrington Board of Health.
According to first responders, there were no working smoke or carbon monoxide detectors in the building.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors — they save lives,” Chief Burger said. “This could have had a very different outcome had the incident occurred at night while everyone was sleeping, and I’m thankful that everyone will be okay. Please use daylight saving this weekend as a reminder to change the batteries in your detectors and call the fire department if you need any assistance.”
The building has been posted as uninhabitable until multiple repairs are made. To prevent future incidents, Chief Burger would like to remind residents of several important safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services regarding carbon monoxide safety:
- Before the heating season every year, have a qualified service technician inspect your appliances.
2. Check vent pipes, flues and chimneys for leaks or blockages.
3. Always make sure furnace and dryer exhaust vents are clear of snow.
4. Use care when shoveling out vehicles, and be sure the tail pipe and undercarriage are free of snow before turning on the engine.
5. Don’t leave a vehicle running inside a garage, even if the door is open. Fumes will quickly build up inside a home if the two spaces are connected.
6. Never use a charcoal grill, gasoline-powered engines (generators, chain saws, blowers, weed trimmers, mowers, or snow blowers) indoors or near doors or windows.
7. Place grills and generators outside, facing away from doors, windows and vents.
8. Do not use a gas oven to heat your home.
9. Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, except unfinished basements or attics. Do not place a CO alarm in a garage, furnace room, or near the stove or fireplace.
10. Locate CO alarms near bedrooms so family members will wake up if the alarm goes off at night. Alarms should be kept away from open windows or doors, excessively hot, cold or damp areas and “dead-air spaces,” such as corners of rooms and peaks of ceilings.
11. To ensure that carbon monoxide alarms are functioning properly, they should be replaced every five to seven years according to directions. After a prolonged power outage, back-up batteries should be checked.