Gas detection meters can warn fire crews of the presence of gases

Gas detection meters keep fire crews safe in Chilliwack River Valley

The meters are designed to warn fire crews of the presence of everything from low oxygen levels to flammable gases.

The gas detection meter is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The devices are already making a big difference for fire crews in the Chilliwack River Valley, who are sometimes required to enter a space filled with dangerous gases.

Chilliwack River Valley Fire Department crews are now able to detect these substances with the specialized equipment, thanks to a recent donation by the Chilliwack Kiwanis Club.

“It’s quite a valuable tool because the substances it detects, we can’t always see,” said Mike Danyluk, deputy chief with the CRVFD.

The meters are designed to warn fire crews of the presence of gases, from dangerously low oxygen levels to leaks from flammable gas, carbon monoxide, H2S and more.

Two gas detection meters and a calibration device were just purchased with $2,200 donated by the Kiwanis to CRV Fire Department.

“We work on a very limited budget with a volunteer fire department,” Danyluk said. “There are often unexpected, new expenses like this.”

It’s reassuring to know they’re covered now.

“When we go to these calls now, we will enter the environment with full oxygen tanks on. We’ll bring along the detector and complete a thorough investigation.”

It’s especially helpful if they have to enter buildings that have housed grow-ops or meth labs.

“There are often dangerous chemicals, which can reduce the oxygen in the room. This offers another element of protection.”

An audible tone goes off and an LED light is activated on the unit if the atmosphere in any space becomes dangerous to breathe.

“It’s crucial to have access to one of these. We could be compromising our safety if we entered without one.”

The fire department had one detector prior to receiving these ones, but when it was damaged and on the blink, they didn’t have the budget replace it.

Having two will help them respond appropriately when needed. One will be stored on the CRVFD rescue truck, while the other will be on the ‘first-out’ fire engine.

The deputy chief figures they’ll be employed 12 to 15 times per year, or about once a month.

The fatal incident at a mushroom farm in Langley in 2008, where three workers succumbed to toxic gases that had pooled in a shed, is the type of scenario the fire department official said they hope to avoid with the new equipment.

Geoffrey Clark from WorkSafeBC told an inquest last year that 18 people have died in enclosed spaces in B.C. in the last decade, but all the deaths could have been avoided. The paramedics were in the right by not entering that Langley shed filled with gases.

The fire department got to try out their new meter on a recent call.

A CRV resident had called 9-1-1 as required when they smelled gas. Turned out the natural gas meter was broken and leaking. They were evacuated and the crews were safe.

Check out the CRV Fire Department’s Open House, on August 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire hall 485665 Chilliwack Lake Road for hot dog lunch and firefighter demonstrations.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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