Kingston, NY – By PAUL KIRBY, Daily Freeman – The city’s top fire official urged residents to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes in the wake of eight cases since Christmas in which the devices alerted residents to high levels of the odorless, deadly gas.

Fire Chief Richard Salzmann said Monday that of the eight cases investigated by the fire department, four dwellings were found to have “significant levels” of carbon monoxide, Salzmann said. The fire chief said residents were made aware of the problem by carbon monoxide detectors.

During the current cold snap, Salzmann said, more furnaces are running for longer periods, creating a situation whereby carbon monoxide leaks are more likely to occur than at any other times of year. Carbon monoxide is the product of incomplete fuel combustion in heating systems.

Salzmann said the fire department has had no cases of injury caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mayor James Sottile supported the fire chief’s push to encourage residents to install the detectors.

“For a little investment, you could save your family’s life,” Sottile said. “These carbon monoxide leaks can be deadly.”

In Vermont, over the weekend, one person died and six others were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after a leak at an apartment building near the University of Vermont.

In Kingston, Salzmann said, the leaks have been reported in various types of dwellings, including single-family homes, two-family houses, and an apartment building.

The four high-level leaks were reported in structures on North Front Street, Washington, Clifton and Clinton avenues, Salzmann said.

“They were all related in, one way or another, to the heating systems,” Salzmann said.

In each case, firefighters were able to locate the problem spots, usually in furnaces, and ordered the heating systems shut off.

Salzmann said it is not unusual for the department to get carbon monoxide calls, but eight since Christmas is the most he recalls firefighters getting in that period of time in the past few years.

“We usually look at (getting calls) typically starting in September or October, when the heating season starts,” Salzmann said. “But when furnaces run as much as they have had to in the last month or so, it is going to become more of a problem. Furnaces are machines. They break down.”

Salzmann said carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in bedrooms or areas where people sleep.

Kingston was the first municipality in the nation to mandate the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in multiunit dwellings. The law followed the November 1992 carbon monoxide death of an elderly woman at the Stony Run Apartments on Hurley Avenue.