Lack of funding slows Akron’s efforts to install carbon monoxide detectors in apartments

ACRON, Ohio. Nearly every day in the city of Akron, firefighters visit neighborhoods and install smoke detectors.

But even after the 66-year-old grandmother died at the Timber Top apartment complex last October, leading to a change in the city’s carbon monoxide detection laws, funding still makes it difficult to install the necessary carbon monoxide detectors throughout the city.

According to Akron Fire Chief Joseph Natko, one carbon monoxide detector costs about the same as three or four smoke detectors.

Although there is a relationship with the American Red Cross to fund and distribute smoke detectors, there is no such device for carbon monoxide detectors.

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Lieutenant Jeff Lane (left) and Lieutenant Robert Langston (right) install a new smoke detector as part of Akron’s free fire department program.

“We don’t have an environment or a contact that will test this and be the tool that we use to go out and install them,” he said.

Natco told News 5 that the department is actively seeking to change that, hoping that carbon monoxide detectors will receive the same attention as their emergency counterparts.

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Akron Fire Department

Back in October, firefighters discovered that a faulty boiler was responsible for extremely high levels of carbon monoxide in the Timer Top apartment building, killing a 66-year-old woman.

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In 2017, requirements for carbon monoxide detectors were added to the Ohio Fire Code. While communities recognize the Ohio Fire Code, each time a new code is added to the code, communities must formally accept the change.

Last November, the Akron City Council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance requiring carbon monoxide detectors in apartments and giving the Akron Fire Department and Neighborhood Assistance Department the power to inspect buildings for carbon monoxide detectors, as they currently do with smoke detectors.

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Since then, Natco said the department has tested more than 1,400 units across the city, with about 300 more planned.

“They weren’t in the spotlight, but now we see landlords stepping up and for the most part doing what they need to do,” he said.

However, not without a few repeat visits.

“We will issue a conclusion and return in 30 days,” Natko said. “If it still doesn’t meet the requirements, we’ll be back again in 30 days. We then need to discuss this with the legal department and sue for non-compliance.”

Carbon monoxide can come from a variety of sources, including clothes dryers, water heaters, stoves or boilers, fireplaces, gas stoves or ovens, grills, generators, and cars.

Clay LePard is a special projects reporter for News 5 Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @ClayLePard or on Facebook Clay LePard News 5.

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