Firefighters handing out carbon monoxide detectors

July 7, 2011 1:46:59 PM PDT
San Francisco firefighters are handing out carbon monoxide detectors to people at a senior center in the city's Bayview District Thursday as a reminder about a new state law requiring their installation.

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, SB 183, required owners of single-family dwellings with an attached garage or fossil fuel source to have the alarms installed by July 1.

A recent statewide survey found that 89 percent of California households did not have the number of carbon monoxide detectors recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, according to the fire department.

In San Francisco, firefighters have responded to 56 calls of carbon monoxide alarm activations since 2010. In 42 of those calls, crews confirmed the presence of the deadly gas, which is odorless and colorless. Several cases led to hospitalizations, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

San Francisco's most recent carbon monoxide-related fatality was in January 2009 when a 78-year-old man was found dead at an apartment building on Geary Street. Eight other people were hospitalized because of that leak, which was determined to be from a water heater or boiler in the building.

Fire officials emphasize that installing a detector can save lives.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Fire Marshal Tom Harvey, members of San Francisco Firefighters Union Local 798 and others will hand out about 250 detectors today to senior citizens at the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center.

Elizabeth Bryan, co-author of the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings," will be on hand as well.

Bryan and her family were nearly killed by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in their home in the 1990s, and she has since become an advocate for installing the detectors.

The detectors being distributed today were donated by the company First Alert, which is helping to provide the alarms to people who cannot afford to buy them.

A local Rotary club has volunteered to install the devices for the seniors, Talmadge said.

The firefighters will be handing out the detectors at noon today.

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