Engine Company

LOOKING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

Issue 11 and Volume 150.

LOOKING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS BY DAVID F. PETERSON Four years ago, on a Saturday morning in the fall, we responded to a small jewelry store in a large retail mall. Several employees were complaining of headaches and nausea. The first-in engine crew noticed a slight, irritating odor in the 1,000-square-foot store. Interviews with employees revealed that many had been ill with flu-like symptoms all that week, yet many could not smell the odor. The engine officer called for our department`s squad, which carries the air-monitoring instruments. Squad members identified the slight odor as that of “rotten eggs,” which could be hydrogen sulfide. After interviewing employees for specific symptoms, we began searching for the source of their illness, using an air-monitoring instrument with the capability of detecting hydrogen sulfide. The instrument never registered a reading for hydrogen sulfide. NOT-SO-OBVIOUS SOURCE We continued searching and entered a small room near the back…

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