State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy is pushing for carbon monoxide detectors in every college dormitory room, after several University at Buffalo students were sickened by a leak on the North Campus in Amherst this week.
The incident Sunday continues to raise questions about why there weren’t carbon monoxide detectors to alert the students of a leak and what is required by law.
Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, wrote to State University of New York officials Tuesday, encouraging them to re-examine SUNY’s policy on carbon monoxide detectors.
“SUNY must ensure there is an operable carbon monoxide detector in every dorm room, and the detectors should be inspected more frequently to ensure they’re in good condition and always working properly,” Kennedy said in a statement.
“Tragedy was averted at UB because campus officials responded quickly to the CO buildup, but we cannot let something like this happen again.”
An industrial-style hot water tank that was not properly vented caused a carbon monoxide buildup at the Richmond Quad on Sunday evening, sickening seven students who have since recovered.
Kennedy cites a state fire code that says carbon monoxide detectors must be placed within 15 feet of sleeping areas.
Officials at UB, however, said the law requires them to place a carbon monoxide detector in sleeping areas on each floor where there is a potential source of carbon monoxide. In this case, UB officials said, there were carbon monoxide detectors in the two ground-floor suites near the hot water tank – or at least it once had them.
The units were in the suites last October when the building passed an inspection by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, said Joseph A. Brennan, associate vice president for university communications.
After Sunday’s incident, UB checked for carbon monoxide detectors, and the units were missing.
“We had them there,” Brennan said. “When we went back and checked on Monday, we did not find them there. We replaced them. We replaced them with tamper-resistant models. We also added these tamper-resistant models on other floors of the building as an extra precaution.”