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Bend-La Pine official: Schools safe from CO

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Dec 07 2012 08:55:57 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent visits an elementary school boiler room to look at the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning and whether schools should have detectors.

BEND, Ore. -

Friday was the first day students were back at school at Finch Elementary in Atlanta, following a large case of carbon monoxide poisoning on Monday that hospitalized dozens of children and staff.

Oregon and most states in the U.S. do not require carbon monoxide detectors in schools, although most have laws requiring them in some homes.

"Having a carbon monoxide detector in there will help prevent those possible sicknesses due to failures," Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said Friday. "Especially in schools, where you have kids in there."

Bend-La Pine schools do not have the detectors -- and heats its buildings with natural gas -- a source emitting carbon monoxide. Should parents be worried?

Director of facilities Mike Tiller told NewsChannel 21 on Friday the systems are perfectly safe.

"Our system is designed in a way that wouldn't allow carbon monoxide into our air stream, because we are basically blowing air over a coil with hot water in it," Tiller said.  "The boilers are in a separate room that are completely self-contained."

Still, Derlacki says if there's natural gas, there is a risk, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

"Whether it be a home a business or a school that has natural gas, propane or any type of those carbon monoxide-producing heating sources has that risk of carbon monoxide in it," Derlacki said.

Tiller acknowledged some natural gas does travel through pipes into the school's kitchens.

"We have gas-fired ovens in those areas for heating up the breakfast and lunch, and that could be a key area where one could be utilized," Tiller said.

But with tight budgets and an efficient heating system, there aren't likely to be carbon monoxide detectors in Bend La Pine schools any time soon.

"It's probably unnecessary, based on how our buildings are put together," Tiller said. "It may be a good idea, something that we would be willing to consider as things change and new laws like this come about."

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