Carbon monoxide leak sends five to hospital in Fredericton, including four children

Carbon monoxide poisoning at Fredericton cultural centre
Wed, Jan 31: Five people, including four children, suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning after a leak at Fredericton Cultural Centre over the weekend. Fire officials say it serves as a reminder that the gas can be deadly and people need to take precautions. Adrienne South reports.

Five people in Fredericton were taken to hospital and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after a construction-related leak at the Fredericton Cultural Centre this weekend.

Fredericton fire officials responded to a call shortly after 12 p.m. on Sunday. Four children and one adult were taken to hospital with several other people being checked out as a precaution.

The leak happened as construction crews were renovating the facility while public programming was taking place.

Workers from GIY Construction were reportedly cutting out a piece of wall where public washrooms will be installed when the leak began.

The crew was unaware of any issues at the time, said Dan Taylor, board president of the Fredericton Intercultural Centre. But patrons participating in dance and youth gym activities complained of feeling ill.

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Taylor said renovations on several parts of the building have been underway since August. He said there have been no issues so far, and said everything has been done according to safety regulations and guidelines.

He said the contractor and board members want to apologize to the families of children who have been impacted.

Taylor said the leak was caused by a saw that was being used. It was a piece of rental equipment and it’s unclear whether or not it was a faulty piece of equipment.

“We definitely know now that it was the elevator shaft that created that vacuum that just drew the fumes and the CO up to the other parts of the building,” Taylor said.

He said they were “extremely lucky” that everyone got out safely.

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“I think if it wasn’t caught when it was, it could have been a different situation and that’s why we’re very concerned and adamant that all the proper measures are put [in place]. We’re going to go above and beyond to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Taylor said.
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Taylor said the board is taking the issue “very seriously” and said they will be following all recommendations brought forward by WorkSafe NB. He said they will be putting extra ventilation in place and putting carbon monoxide detectors in the construction area, as well as throughout the entire building, indefinitely.

Taylor also wanted to make sure any rumours regarding a generator being used indoors were incorrect and said those rumours need to be put to rest.

Fredericton Assistant Deputy Fire Chief David McKinley said fire crews respond to more than a dozen carbon monoxide incidents every year.

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He said this incident serves as a reminder to the public that carbon monoxide can be deadly and people need to take precautions in their own homes and buildings.

“In a home, not only do you feel nauseous, but you get lethargic and sleepy, and if you have a severe case of carbon monoxide poisoning, you can fall asleep and not wake up,” McKinley said.

He said people who have anything in their house that burns or creates exhaust fumes such as a fireplace, wood stove, natural gas or propane, need to have carbon monoxide detectors.

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McKinley said the average cost of detectors they recommend people is approximately $100, but he said it’s a small price to pay for something that could save lives.