Carbon Monoxide Forces Annapolis Police To Flee

August 21, 2009|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,

The Annapolis Police Department headquarters was evacuated Wednesday and two of its employees remained sick Thursday after a potentially deadly gas was drawn into the building, which is under renovation.

Carbon monoxide sickened many people in the building, including the receptionist, who appeared to have been rendered unconscious by the gas, said Maj. Scott Baker of the Annapolis police.

Two people, both of whom work near air vents, were treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center and released, but had not returned to work Thursday, Baker said.

Exposure to the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas can cause headache, nausea and dizziness, and can be fatal.

The Fire Department was called at 11:07 a.m., and parts of the building showed levels of carbon monoxide at 50 parts per million, said fire Lt. John J. Bowes. Firefighters ventilated the building using fans, and workers were allowed to return about 12:30 p.m.

The city fire marshal ordered the company, Eastern Waterproofing & Restoration Co. of Jessup, not to use power equipment, citing an unsafe work condition, Bowes said.

The city halted work there that involves welding and running power equipment close to the building until a safety plan is submitted and approved, said Rob Schuetz, the Annapolis director of central services.

No one at the company was available Thursday to discuss the situation.

Schuetz said a worker was doing welding in the first-floor boiler room. But the equipment for it was on scaffolding outside the second floor, and was within 5 feet of the building when "it is supposed to be more like 20, 25 feet," he said. The result was that the fumes were drawn into the ventilation system and pumped throughout the building.

Schuetz ordered two of the company's project management employees off the work site, he said.

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