Local schools work to keep your children safe despite gas heaters, carbon monoxide

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Changes could be coming to some local schools one day after dozens of Atlanta students were rushed to the hospital, following exposure to carbon monoxide.

The leak was caused by a faulty boiler. Now Alanta-area schools are considering adding carbon monoxide detectors.

The scare had News 12 wondering: What about our local schools? Should parents be worried?

About 20 percent of Richmond County schools and four schools in Columbia County all use gas heaters. News 12 went inside of and on top of a school to show you how they're working to keep your child safe.

Lauren Townsend has three students at Willis Foreman Elementary in Hephzibah, which is a gas-heated school.

"It's a little alarming to know that that kind of thing can happen within the school system," Townsend said.

It turns out, about 20 percent of Richmond County schools rely on gas, like the Atlanta school that sent 42 people to the hospital.

"You bring your kids to school and hope that they're going to be OK and those kind of things are a scare," Townsend said.

News 12 took a camera on top of Spirit Creek Middle School, another gas-powered school.

Todd Zills is the county heating, ventilation and air conditioning foreman.

"Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, but like mild cases, you can start getting dizzy or headaches or burning eyes, that kind of thing," Zills said.

He says they're constantly checking up on problems.

"The boilers we make sure are vented correctly. We do an annual inspection on all the gas heaters on the roof clean burners, visually inspect cells," Zills said.

"Because it did happen in Atlanta, our school system is double checking and rechecking, and they're doing everything to make sure that we're not in any type of danger," said Parent-Teacher Association Dr. Monique Braswell.

Since carbon monoxide detectors are not required, no school has them. Maintenance employees instead respond to complaints, and they carry meters.

"If we do have a complaint from a classroom anyone getting dizzy, sick -- saying that sort of thing -- we dispatch a technician out," Zills said.

"They might have to go the route of upgrading or doing something to ensure that safety besides the kids start falling out and then they have to turn and find out what's wrong," Townsend said. "You already have enough things you worry about as it is with your children going to school, but that's an extra added scare."

Again, carbon monoxide detectors are not requirements in Georgia schools. Right now, they are only mandatory in Maryland and Connecticut, but a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends all schools have them installed.

Columbia County schools include Blue Ridge Elementary, Brookwood Elementary, Stevens Creek Elementary and Riverside Elementary.

Here's the list of schools in Richmond County that use gas units:

  • Windsor Spring: One gas fired boiler located in mech. room. / One gas pack on rooftop for media center / Old building classrooms have water coil units and additions have wall-hung heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Tobacco Road: One hot water gas fired boiler in mech. room for water coil units in kitchen and lunchroom / Classrooms have wall hung and rooftop heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Gracewood: 300, 400, lunchroom buildings have gas heat multizone and package units. Building 200 has one gas-fired boiler in mech. rm with radiators in classrooms.
  • Cross Creek: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room. Used to heat water for water coil units in lockerrooms and Energy Recovery Units. Classrooms all have wall-hung heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Barton Chapel: Old building has gas-fired rooftop units / Annex building has heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Collins: Rooftop gas-fired package units for each classroom.
  • Josey: Three gas-fired boilers located in mech. room for radiators in the Voc. building and old gym. / Classroom units on main building have wall-hung heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Old Jenkins - one gas fired boiler located in mech. room with each classroom having a radiator.
  • Murphy: Two boilers located in mech. rooms -- one for lunchroom and one for some classroom radiators. Some classrooms have wall-hung heat pumps, no gas-fired equipment.
  • Tubman: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for water source, heat pumps located in mech. room. / Each classroom has the water source heat pump. UA Bldg.
  • GHH: Three gas-fired boilers located in mech. room for radiators and water source heat pumps in each classroom.
  • HHS: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for water coils in air handlers for main building. / Rooftop gas-fired equipment on 200 wing for each classroom and wall-hung heat pumps on 300 wing.
  • HMS: Rooftop gas-fired package units for each classroom.
  • HES: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for classroom, water source heat pumps.
  • Blythe: Rooftop gas-fired package units for each classroom.
  • Spirit Creek: Rooftop gas fired package units for each classroom.
  • Laney: Two gas-fired boilers located in mech. rooms. One for music building. Water coils and one for main building. Radiators in each classroom. 600 & 700 buildings have gas-fired VAV units.
  • Lamar: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for radiators in each classroom. VAV gas fired unit on Annex building.
  • ARC: Three gas-fired boilers located in mech. rooms, two for water source heat pump loop and one for gym hanging water coil heaters. Each classroom has water source heat pump.
  • Jamestown: Rooftop gas-fired package units for each classroom.
  • Morgan Road: Rooftop gas-fired package units for each classroom.
  • AR Johnson: Gas-fired VAV rooftop units for classrooms.
  • Davidson: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for theater, hot water coil air handler / Gas-fired VAV rooftop units for classrooms.
  • SX Floyd: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for radiators in each classroom.
  • Craig Houghton: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for water source heat pump loop. Classrooms have water source heat pumps.
  • Hornsby Elementary: Two gas-fired boilers located in mech. room. / Each room has hot water fan coil.
  • Hornsby Middle: Gas-fired rooftop units for classrooms.
  • GHM: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for building loop. Classrooms have water source heat pumps.
  • Butler: Three gas-fired boilers located in mech. rooms for classroom radiators. Media center has gas-fired rooftop units.
  • Bungalow Road / Hains: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for radiators in each classroom.
  • Southside: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room. / Rooftop gas-fired VAV units.
  • Sego: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for water coils in air handlers.
  • Rollins: One gas-fired boiler located in mech. room for radiators in classrooms.
  • Transportation: Hanging gas-fired heaters in shop area.
  • Maintenance: Hanging gas-fired heaters in shop areas.
  • Meadowbrook: Rooftop gas-fired units for classrooms.
  • Bayvale: Rooftop gas-fired units for classrooms.
  • Westside: Rooftop gas-fired units for classrooms.
  • Garrett: Rooftop VAV gas-fired units for classrooms.
  • AB Merry: Three boilers located in mech. rooms. / One for water source heat pump loop in new wing with water source heat pumps in classrooms. Two for water coil units in main building classrooms.
  • Tutt: One gas-fired VAV unit on math wing and wall-hung heat pumps for all other classrooms with no gas.
  • LFH: Rooftop gas-fired multizone units for classrooms.
  • Tobacco Road: One boiler located in mech. room for hot water coil in air handler for kitchen and lunchroom. Classrooms have wall-hung heat pumps with no gas.
  • Goshen: One boiler located in mech. room for hot water coil in air handler for kitchen and lunchroom. Classrooms have wall-hung heat pumps with no gas.


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