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Scare prompts look at CO detectors in schools

ATLANTA — It’s odorless, colorless and deadly. And if carbon monoxide is leaking in a school, it might not be detected.

Atlanta school officials are discussing whether to install carbon monoxide alarms after a leak sent 42 students and five adults to the hospital Monday and forced the evacuation of 500 students. The gas was found at potentially lethal levels near a furnace.

Atlanta schools spokesman Stephen Alford said discussions about installing alarms are under way. The alarms are not legally required in Georgia.

Two states, Maryland and Connecticut, have passed laws requiring them in schools.

Franklin County schools respond

Though Massachusetts requires that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in residences and certain other buildings, including day care centers, schools aren’t among them.

“We do use carbon monoxide detectors in the vocational school,” said James Laverty, superintendent of Franklin County Technical School.

However, said Laverty, the school’s two automotive areas are the only ones outfitted with carbon monoxide detectors.

There are no carbon monoxide detectors in any of Frontier Regional School District’s five schools, according to Bob Lesko, director of buildings and grounds for the district.

Calls to officials at the Ralph C. Mahar, Mohawk, and Pioneer Valley Regional school districts for comment were not returned Tuesday.

Though schools are generally not required to have carbon monoxide detectors, residential buildings at boarding schools are, if they use fossil fuels for heat.

The Northfield Mount Hermon School’s residence halls are excluded from the requirement. The dorms and academic buildings share a steam heating system, which doesn’t burn carbon monoxide-generating fossil fuels, said NMH spokeswoman Cheri Cross. Cross said some faculty houses and administrative buildings do use fossil fuel heat, and have detectors installed on every level.

Recorder Reporter David Rainville contributed to this story.

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