Carbon monoxide detectors weren’t previously required in school buildings, but that has changed according to the State of Ohio’s new fire code — and some school districts in Clark County may need to make adjustments in buildings to be in compliance.
The gas is found in fumes produced by burning fuel in cars, trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces. Carbon monoxide can build up indoors and become deadly — and it becomes a bigger concern in the winter months.
Springfield City Schools and Tecumseh Local Schools were the only districts that said they had CO detectors in every district building.
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Northwestern Local Schools Superintendent Jesse Steiner said his district doesn’t have detectors because the buildings run on geothermal heating and air.
“Carbon monoxide should not be an issue for us,” he said in an email.
Southeastern Local Schools only have the detectors in the central office and the bus garage.
Superintendent Brad Silvus, of Greenon Local Schools said they do have detectors in the high school’s boiler room — and it’s something they anticipate having when the district finishes construction on new schools.
Springfield-Clark CTC does not currently have detectors, but Superintendent Michelle Patrick said they expect to have them installed soon. Those plans were in the works before a CO leak hit Clark-Shawnee Local Schools earlier this week.
Shawnee does have not CO detectors, but they will be checking to see if they are needed. The district had a CO leak from an old boiler system on Monday, which resulted in the early release of nearly 900 students.
Everyone was able to make it out of the building safely and students returned to class on Tuesday, but that incident caused Northeastern Local School District to rethink detectors in its buildings.
Superintendent John Kronour said even though Northeastern is on track to get new school buildings in the near future, he said in the meantime — the district will be installing detectors in all of its buildings.
“It’s really a small expense,” he said.
According to Ohio’s fire code school buildings weren’t previously required to be equipped with CO detectors, but the state created a new code in 2017.
All educational buildings — whether they are older buildings or new construction — are now required to have them if the building is served by a fuel-burning, forced air furnace.
The type of detectors varies based on the age of the building.
School buildings built after the code was adopted are required to have hard-wired detectors, while older buildings may retrofit their spaces with battery-operated detectors.
The code specifies that all buildings should have had the detectors by Jan. 1, 2019.
Springfield Fire Marshal’s Bureau Captain Jeff Powell said it’s normal for businesses or schools not to be aware of changes to the state fire code.
He said typically, it’s during inspections by local fire departments that guidelines for changes are given.
It is possible that districts that haven’t installed detectors may face citations by the fire department who has jurisdiction over their district or the State Fire Marshal.
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