Engine Company

Carbon monoxide detection for engine companies

Issue 9 and Volume 154.

BY CHRISTOPHER WRENN AND MIKE SEGARS A gas detector is a “flashlight” that lets people “see” gases they would not normally be able to see. In recent years, the fire service has increasingly relied on engine companies to respond to carbon monoxide (CO) detection calls. The number of CO calls has outstripped the ability of haz-mat teams (the traditional responders) to respond to such calls. Because of the increased emphasis on energy-efficient building construction, homes and offices are now more airtight, which has increased the potential for the buildup of CO, a by-product of incomplete combustion. To handle the increased workload, engine companies now often respond to CO calls. However, unlike haz-mat teams, engine company firefighters typically lack extensive gas detection training and experience, including gas detector maintenance. If gas detectors are not properly maintained and calibrated, their readings may be unreliable. But by using two verification methods, calibration and…

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