Carbon monoxide detectors not required in schools

Carbon monoxide detector not required in schools. / Jessica Fairley

After Finch Elementary in south Atlanta was evacuated for carbon monoxide, state officials want to try and make it mandatory to have detectors in public places.

"Our current building codes require smoke detectors, but Georgia building codes do not require carbon monoxide detectors anywhere," said Ralph Hudgens, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.

Although Dougherty County schools don't have carbon monoxide detectors, officials are trained to investigate and react immediately if they believe there is problem.

"We have a machine that sniffs the air and tells us whether there's carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane or any type of gas like that that could be causing the problems," said Bob Fowler, Dougherty County School System Assistant Facilities Director.

If carbon monoxide is found, the schools would then be evacuated and ventilated.

Georgia law makers are hoping the absence of carbon monoxide detectors in public places is something that they can change.

"I'm going to request that the legislature this year creates a joint committee between the house and the senate to look at the building codes in Georgia and see if we want to require this," said Ralph Hudgens.

Commissioner Hudgens says out of the 39 people sent to the hospital in Atlanta, none were admitted to stay.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas and without symptoms, people may not know it's there. Symptoms include headaches, drowsiness, nausea and possibly a loss of consciousness.

Commissioner Hudgens says without detection, the Atlanta students and teachers affected by carbon monoxide couldn't have known it was making them sick.