"After February CO leak, UB will begin project to install hard-wired detectors"

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The Spectrum

Next week, UB will begin installing hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors in Richmond Quad, where a carbon monoxide leak poisoned at least 10 students and sent five of them to the hospital on Feb. 17.

On Feb. 17, the two plug-in CO detectors in Richmond were missing when a hot water boiler malfunctioned and created the lethal gas. It spread throughout the dorm, and now UB is taking precautionary measures that surpass state code.

Vice President for University Communications Joseph Brennan told The Spectrum in February that UB passed the annual fire control and prevention dormitory inspection in October. This means the detectors had to have been present in October.

But UB did not have documentation proving it passed until this past Monday. There is normally a brief gap between the end of the inspection and the receipt of the certificate, said Joseph Raab, the director of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S).

In February, UB installed eight wall-mounted, battery-operated temporary detectors in Richmond, though it is only required by state law to have two on the ground floor (where the source of carbon monoxide is located). Now, there are also tamper-resistant detectors outside of room 588B, 578B, 475B, 481B, 378B and 375B, according to Brennan.

Raab told The Spectrum in February that EH&S would conduct weekly inspections to ensure the detectors won't go missing again.

EH&S has been conducting inspections at least once per week, according to Raab.

Early next week, hard-wired detectors will replace the current battery-operated detectors in Richmond. The new detectors will be a combination of fire detectors and CO detectors. The project is expected to be finished in two weeks.

After Richmond is complete, all of North Campus will receive the same detectors. The entire project will be finished by May, according to Raab.

UB will then begin installing the hard-wired detectors in South Campus dorms, which Raab said will be finished by the end of summer.

The endeavor is "beyond what's required by code," Raab said.

For each residence hall on North and South Campus, UB will make an approximately $1,300 upgrade to the fire panel (the electronic panel computer that controls the fire alarm system for the building) and will spend about $750 to program the fire panel in each dorm. Each detector is roughly $175.

Richmond's two plug-in detectors were each approximately $40.

UB's goal is to never have an incident like the one in February.

Email: news@ubspectrum.com