Seven people were treated at the scene for light carbon monoxide exposure and another nine were taken by ambulance to hospital for observation Tuesday after a carbon monoxide leak in Pitt Meadows.
And now the city’s deputy fire chief is advocating for more carbon monoxide detectors and furnace inspections.
Emergency crews responded to a commercial building complex in the 19100-block of Ford Road at around 3:30 p.m. after reports of people feeling nauseous and an odd smell in the building.
They immediately evacuated the building, which houses a medical clinic, pharmacy and accounting firm, and called for Fortis Gas and B.C. Emergency Health Services.
Carbon monoxide meters showed a level of 300 ppm.
Pitt Meadows deputy fire chief Dave Biggin said a faulty HVAC system on the roof of the building was the cause of the leak, adding that it took about 40 minutes to clear the building of the invisible and odourless gas.
After fire crews cleared the building of carbon monoxide, a gas technician entered and shut the system off.
Paramedics cared for and transported nine patients, all in stable condition, to hospital for observation.
“B.C. Ambulance had an excellent response for the patients. It was cold, it was wet,” Biggin added.
He said any home or commercial building that has a gas-fired furnace or hot water heater should have that appliance inspected by a licensed professional every year.
Every building that’s so equipped should also have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor, and it should be replaced every eight years.
Smoke alarms are mandatory, but carbon monoxide detectors are not in B.C. except for in parkades, Biggin added.
“Carbon monoxide … is colourless, it’s odourless and it does not take a lot to be fatal,” Craig Helm, gas safety officer with Technical Safety B.C. said last month during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week.
“One per cent of carbon monoxide in the air is actually fatal.”
Symptoms of CO poisoning, according to Technical Safety B.C.’s website, can include headaches and confusion, nausea and dizziness, and later, breathlessness and loss of consciousness.
However, as Helm said, CO can be harmful in a short amount of time.
“So many places it can come from, that’s why it’s so important to have a carbon monoxide detector,” he said.
“It can save your life.”