The Great Neck Alert Fire Company reminds residents to check their carbon monoxide detectors
On Tuesday, June 28, Chabad of Great Neck, located on East Shore Road in the Village of Kings Point, experienced a carbon monoxide (CO) leak. The Great Neck Alert Fire Company was the first to respond to the situation, later joined by the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company and EMS units, the Nassau County Fire Department and the Kings Point Police Department.
Great Neck Alert Fire Company Chief John Purcell spoke with the Great Neck Record about the incident taking place on early Tuesday morning.
“The gentleman in charge of the camp at Chabad of Great Neck called around 4:45 a.m. about the CO leak,” said Purcell. “The dispatcher told the man to get everyone out of the building, which they did.”
When the Great Neck Alert Fire Company arrived at the Chabad of Great Neck, all occupants were outside in the fresh air.
“The Chabad did a good job of self-activating and getting everyone outside at 5 in the morning,” said Purcell.
Purcell shared that when the fire company put on the oxygen packs and got inside, the CO levels were almost 200. For a typical CO detector, the alarm will go off when levels reach about 30. While CO is odorless and colorless, initial signs of a CO leak include headaches and nausea.
“A level of 200 will definitely get you sick and cause you to be nauseous,” said Purcell. “And levels at 300 is something that could be life-threatening.”
The crew went downstairs in the building and determined the leak to be from a faulty boiler system.
“From what [the Chabad members] were telling us, the boiler was repaired within the last 48 hours and was still running,” said Purcell. “When we asked them why didn’t they turn it off, they said they didn’t know how to turn it off. In those situations, we suggest calling the boiler company back to help because it can cause catastrophic issues.”
“[The Chabad] did have an alarm that was on the first floor that did activate,” said Purcell. “The occupants weren’t complaining much. They said they were a little nauseous, had some headaches and sore throat, which are all definite symptoms of CO leaks. One girl said she had difficulty breathing, and her levels were a little over normal, so as a precaution, they took her to North Shore Hospital.”
The Nassau County Fire Marshal Michal Uttaro came to inspect the situation and advised adding more CO detectors and fire alarms to the Chabad, which were installed on the first and second floor shortly after.
A representative from the Chabad of Great Neck shared with the Great Neck Record that they have now installed more alarms in their building. When they went to purchase more of the CO detectors and fire alarms, the local Home Depot heard about the incident and worked out a discount with the Chabad to ensure they had enough alarms to equip the establishment safely.
When situations like this arise, it is important to take the time and use it to raise awareness for such issues to ensure the community is prepared when these rare occurrences happen.
The Great Neck Alert Fire Company took to social media to remind residents to take these matters seriously and have enough CO meters in their homes or places of business.
“About two or three days after the fact, we had the same exact thing occur somewhere else,” said Purcell. “The people said their CO meter was going off, but they didn’t think it was anything. It turned out to be nothing compared to [the Chabad incident], but they had a problem with their hot water heater in the basement. It was a fairly new house, and they had detectors going off all over the place, so the devices were really doing their job.”
“Nine out of 10 times, it is a false alarm,” said Purcell. “But it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when children are involved.”
According to Purcell, CO leaks aren’t very common in the summertime and are more common in winter. While leaks could happen due to AC units not functioning correctly, it is usually the heating units because the vents tend to get clogged up.
Unvented space heaters, clogged chimneys, idling vehicles and malfunctioning water heaters are the most common sources of CO leaks. Purcell urges residents to make sure they have enough detectors for the size of their residence or establishment and check their CO detectors and fire alarms regularly.
“Make sure batteries are replaced every six months,” said Purcell. “With the newer detectors and alarms, many are a combination of CO detectors and fire alarms, which work great. And with some of the newer combination alarms can last ten years with minimal battery replacement requirements.”
Follow the Great Neck Alert Fire Company on social media to stay up to date with safety tips.