Government Police/Fire

West Hartford Fire Department Responds to Carbon Monoxide Incident in Mixed-Use Building

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a carbon monoxide incident at The Heritage. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Fire Department said The Heritage in Blue Back Square was evacuated Thursday afternoon due to high levels of carbon monoxide detected in the building. [Updated 6:30 p.m.]

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a carbon monoxide incident at The Heritage. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

Residents of The Heritage condominiums and occupants of the commercial businesses on the ground floor of the building at 85 Memorial Road were evacuated Thursday afternoon due to the presence of carbon monoxide that was likely caused by power washing taking place in the basement garage area, West Hartford Fire Chief Greg Priest said.

Fire department units responded to a report from dispatchers at 1:26 p.m. Thursday due to an initial activation of a carbon monoxide detector, Priest said, and as they arrived at the scene additional detectors in the building started going off.

“Metering crews determined that there were increased levels of carbon monoxide and initiated an evacuation of the apartments as well as the commercial spaces below,” Priest said. The high levels of carbon monoxide mostly contained to common areas such as hallways and stairwells – not in residential apartment units.

Ventilation of the building was initiated, including opening doors and windows to allow fresh air to circulate.

“After an investigation, workers were located in a garage area below the apartments who were using propane-powered pressure washing equipment which was believed to be the source of the carbon monoxide,” Priest said.

Once the pressure-washing operation was stopped and the building was ventilated, there was a corresponding drop in the carbon monoxide levels.

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a carbon monoxide incident at The Heritage. Photo credit: Ronni NewtonTwo individuals indicated they had some symptoms related to exposure to carbon monoxide, but subsequently refused medical treatment and transport, Priest said.

Use of propane-fired equipment for power washing is the “like source of the carbon monoxide,” Priest said.

“I don’t anticipate this will be a long-duration event,” Priest said at the scene, but it would probably take about an hour. He said the Fire Marshal’s Office and officials from the town’s Building Department would work with the property manager to restore occupancy to the residential and commercial portions of the business.

Access to The Heritage and the Memorial Garage was closed off Thursday afternoon. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

In an email, Priest provided the following details about carbon monoxide: “As a matter of reference, according to NIOSH, carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless gas and the level of carbon monoxide which is immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) is 1500ppm. The highest level in this incident was recorded at 500ppm in a remote stairwell, most common spaces were recorded at lower levels (20-300ppm).  Most of the apartments or actively occupied spaces were low (~20ppm), or had no carbon monoxide readings. There are no anticipated long term affects of the carbon monoxide to the building or individuals based on the information at hand.”

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