AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Seven apartments evacuated after carbon monoxide detector alerts resident Friday morning.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Agawam Fire Chief Alan Sirois, at around 1 a.m. crews were called to a report of high levels of carbon monoxide at 420 Main Street after a resident was awakened by the detector.

Residents of seven apartments were evacuated for approximately two hours while firefighters shut down a malfunctioning gas hot water heater and ventilated the gas out of the building.

Fire Chief Alan Sirois said, “If not for the presence of the CO detectors, the outcome of this incident could have been very different. CO detectors should be checked regularly. Their presence in this incident almost certainly saved lives.”

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is burned. If it is not
vented properly it can accumulate inside of buildings causing illness or death and can only be detected by a carbon monoxide detector.

Sources of carbon monoxide includes furnaces, hot water heaters, gas stoves, gas and charcoal grills,
running vehicles, generators and small engines. Chief Sirois recommends that gas and oil appliances should be checked and serviced by qualified technicians in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, usually once a year.

Protect Your Home and Family with Carbon Monoxide Alarms

  • The law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed on every level of your home, including habitable portions of basements and attics, in most residences.
  • On levels with sleeping areas, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within ten feet of bedroom doors.
  • When purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, be sure to look for the approval label of an independent testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL), International Approval Service (IAS), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Most carbon monoxide alarms that are sold in the Commonwealth meet these standards, but it’s a good idea to check before buying.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms may be
    • Battery operated with battery monitoring
    • Plug-ins with battery back-up
    • Low voltage systems
    • Wireless
    • Qualified combination
  • Replace carbon monoxide alarms every five to seven years, depending on the make and model.
  • Newer CO alarms have a ten year sealed battery that does not need changing. At ten years, the entire device is replaced. 
  • If you have a plug-in model, be aware that the battery will run down during an extended power outage and may need to be replaced. 

For Landlords and Tenants

  • Nicole’s Law also requires landlords to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms in every dwelling unit that has a source of carbon monoxide.
  • Large apartment buildings, where there is no source inside of the individual apartments, may use an alternative method to detect carbon monoxide near the furnace, boiler rooms, or garage.