British Columbia·Video

Surrey fire chief calls for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors following recent poisonings

Surrey’s fire chief is calling on the government to make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in the wake of recent poisonings that sent 18 people to hospital

‘You’d think that it would be a pretty simple decision’

'Even if they aren't mandatory in your home, they are a great idea,' says Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Surrey's fire chief is calling on the province to make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in wake of the recent poisonings that sent 18 people to hospital.

"You'd think that it would be a pretty simple decision to say 'maybe we should nudge this ahead,'" said Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis. "We'd probably see a big change in what we're seeing in terms of those hospitalizations and poisonings and deaths."

Thirteen people were hospitalized in Vancouver, Dec. 5, when they were exposed to carbon monoxide in an office on Wednesday.

A day later, two adults and three children from Barriere, B.C., were airlifted to Vancouver after being poisoned in their home.  

Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety called the incidents troubling, and in a statement said the province is reviewing all available tools, including legislation to get carbon monoxide alarms installed," where they can keep people safe." 

Dr. Bruce Campana, one of the physicians at Vancouver General Hospital who treated some of the patients, called it an "insane" week for treatments.

He said he's aware of at least 17 previous cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in the past few weeks.

The City of Vancouver made carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in May, 2017. In the rest of the province, only new homes with a fuel-burning appliance or a storage garage are required to have a detector.

More than 40 people were hospitalized late in 2017 after being exposed to carbon monoxide at a greenhouse in  Delta, B.C.

Ontario brought in mandatory retrofits for older buildings in 2014.

"Even if they aren't mandatory in your home, they are a great idea," said Jonathan Gormick with the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service. "They are an inexpensive way to protect your family against this gas."

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills 300 Canadians a year and sends 200 people to hospital.

"Homes need to have a working smoke alarm regardless, and to add a combination smoke alarm,[carbon monoxide] detector is probably another $15 per unit," said Garis. "It's an easy win."

Learn more about carbon monoxide detectors

Jonathan Gormick of the Vancouver Fire Department answers the top five questions about carbon monoxide safety. 1:32

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