First Hand Experience: Sault Fire Service and Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide Detector

SAULT STE MARIE, ONT. – More than 50 people die in Ontario every year because of Carbon Monoxide poisoning according to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.

Here is my personal story:

Walking into my utility room a couple of days ago, I was hit with the smell of gas and a headache. I knew something was up even though my Carbon Monoxide detector had not gone off.

I stepped out of the room and called the non-emergency line for Sault Fire Service. About 4 minutes later the crew from Pumper 2 arrived at my residence.

They asked me to explain what happened and they entered the room and detected a small leak. They moved around the residence and found the only room affected was the utility room.

They asked me to wait outside while they contacted the gas company. When the gas company confirmed their findings, I was given a Notice of a Dangerous Situation and they turned off the gas to my boiler.

The crew of Pumper 2 left me a loaner CO detector until I could replace the one I had they were concerned it didn’t go off to alert me to the dangerous situation.

I can’t say enough about the four crew members from P2. They were efficient in their service and extremely friendly and a calming presence in an emergency, it was a professional interaction from beginning to end.

The next day I reached out to the Public Information Officer of Sault Fire Services for more information on Carbon Monoxide, here is his response to questions I asked.

What is the standard time frame on a loaner CO detection device?

A: Typically we get back to the owner/tenant within 24 to 48 hours to retrieve the loaner alarm and ensure a new alarm is purchased/installed.

Do you know of any programs in town that help people without the means to get a CO device?

A: There currently are not any programs that give out CO alarms. This is generally due to the Province taking the approach that it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain them and there are enforcement laws that accompany that. There are some social assistance programs that could be available to assist, but they would have to apply to them. If anyone is living in an apartment, rental or social housing – these alarms are provided by the owner or landlord. This includes new alarms and batteries.

What are the dangers of Carbon Monoxide?

A: Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness, without the elevated temperature associated with the flu. In severe cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death. The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to CO. It can poison the body quickly in high concentrations, or slowly over long periods of time.

Tips for preventing Carbon Monoxide issues in your home/apartment.

A: Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is the first week in November and we will be doing a campaign, much like Fire Prevention Week, about the dangers of CO.

Some Tips are: Check the date on the back of your CO alarm – they only last a maximum of 10 years. Test the alarm at least once a month. Replace the batteries in the alarm every year. Install CO alarms beside (near) sleeping areas – not beside the furnace or source. Please visit our website for more information:

Sault Fire Service asks you to call them if you even think there may be an issue with CO in your home, it is better to be safe than sorry.