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Media Releases

July 10, 2019

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Update: Carbon Monoxide Incident

Released: 2:21 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) responded yesterday to a largescale incident involving many individuals affected by exposure to carbon monoxide gas. This serious incident required an urgent and tactical response by several agencies, including the Winnipeg Police Service, Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and Shared Health, as well as the WFPS.

“Yesterday’s incident was a very scary reminder about the danger carbon monoxide poses,” said WFPS Chief John Lane. “Our crews worked very quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of those inside the hotel with a quick evacuation and the assessment, treatment and transport of over 40 individuals. Our teams are trained to know how to handle large scale incidents and yesterday they demonstrated those capabilities. I thank all WFPS crews and all our partner agencies for working with us to serve all those impacted yesterday.”

A number of agencies are involved in the investigation of this incident including the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health and the WFPS.

Both the Manitoba Fire Code and the Manitoba Building Code contain requirements for carbon monoxide protection in hotels. This hotel last had a fire inspection in 2017 at which time it was found compliant with relevant standards. It is due for inspection again in 2020.

Every year, the WFPS responds to hundreds of emergency incidents involving carbon monoxide. In 2018, crews responded to 708 calls where carbon monoxide was suspected to be present. In light of yesterday’s incident, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is once again reminding residents to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and to purchase a carbon monoxide alarm.

If you ever suspect carbon monoxide in your home, exit immediately and call 911.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas that is a by-product of the combustion process. Dangerous accumulations of carbon monoxide can result from a faulty appliance, clogged chimney, inadequate venting or a buildup of engine exhaust.

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning is usually the result of prolonged exposure to highly elevated levels of carbon monoxide and can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

The symptoms of minor carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic those of the common flu such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, weakness, vision or hearing impairment and shortness of breath. 

Tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Have fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, wood-burning fireplaces and gas dryers cleaned and checked annually by a qualified service technician.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on all levels of your home and outside each sleeping area.
  • Never idle vehicles in a garage even if the garage door is open.
  • Ensure that all fresh air intake vents, exhaust vents and chimneys are clear of snow, insulation, leaves, bird nests, lint or debris.
  • Make sure wood and coal-burning stoves are properly installed and vented.
  • Don’t operate gasoline-powered engines, charcoal or propane barbecue/grills, or kerosene stoves in closed spaces or indoors.
  • Check forced air fans for proper ventilation.

For more information on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, visit City of Winnipeg – Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

For more information on the safe use of natural gas or to report problems with your natural gas service, visit Manitoba Hydro or call 1-888-624-9376 (1-888-MBHYDRO).

July 10, 2019