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Do Schools Protect Against CO?

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A school in Atlanta is back to normal Tuesday after a number of students and teachers were sent to the hospital. It turns out they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. So we ask how often does something like this happen, and could the same thing happen here?  

In South Dakota schools fire alarms, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers are easy to spot. But a carbon monoxide detector isn’t easy to find, because chances are, most schools don’t have them.

"Right now there are no state laws requiring detectors in education facilities,” said Mike Top, Assistant Fire Marshall with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

But fire officials in Sioux Falls are trying to change that.

"In the 2012 International Fire Code, which Sioux Falls is in the process of getting things set up, then we will submit it to the city council for consideration,” said Top.

And that’s just half of the battle. The ordinance only includes residential buildings like apartments, hospitals and nursing homes, not schools. However, fire officials said they would consider adopting a special amendment to include schools in the ordinance.

And while schools aren’t required to have carbon monoxide detectors, officials with the Sioux Falls School District said they already take their own precautions to ensure students’ safety.

"Our buildings are constructed so the air from the boiler rooms, is separated from the air that is supplied to the classrooms,” said DeeAnn Konrad, Community Relations Supervisor for the Sioux Falls School District.

In every classroom there are air exchange vents, which keep air circulating.     

"So if there was some type of chemical in the air or carbon monoxide or what have you in the air, those fresh air exchanges would help ensure safety and it wouldn’t be in a concentrated area,” said Konrad.

The district works closely with the fire department to make sure boilers and vents are up to code. They also have an emergency plan.
" If a situation arose where students needed to evacuate because there was something in the building that was causing an issue, there is a plan in place and we practice that,” said Konrad.

It’s a plan to keep students safe, however school officials said if the ordinance making detectors mandatory were to pass, they would be on board.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue hopes to propose the ordinance requiring carbon monoxide detectors in residential and industrial facilities as early as January.

They hope to have it passed and in place by March.
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