New Hanover Co. Sheriff’s Office getting carbon monoxide detectors

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is among a growing number of law enforcement departments across the country taking action over concerns that carbon monoxide fumes from Ford patrol SUVs are seeping inside.

Corporal Jason Cummings said they have ordered carbon monoxide detectors for two of their Ford interceptors.

The move comes as police in Auburn, Massachusetts, confirmed an officer who passed out behind the wheel of his cruiser and crashed tested positive for exposure to carbon monoxide.

Cummings said they have not had any issues with their vehicles, but they don’t want to take any risks.

“Once we realized that there was even possibly a situation where carbon monoxide could leak into the cabin, carbon monoxide detectors were ordered for the vehicle not only to protect us, but most of our interceptors are k9 vehicles,” Cummings said. “We want to protect the dog as well.”

A Wilmington Police spokeswoman said that the department has 10 Ford Explorers while other city departments have seven. She said the city fleet maintenance staff is planning to put CO sensors in the vehicles.

Ford Motor Company is taking action to help address the concerns of first responders driving Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. A spokesman with Ford said drivers of regular, non-police Ford Explorers have no reason to be concerned.

The spokesman said while there have been reports of exhaust odors in some regular Explorers, those instances are unrelated to reports of carbon monoxide described by some police departments. If a vehicle has such an odor, customers should bring it to a Ford dealer to address that issue.

Addressing specific concerns from Ford police customers, Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president, Product Development and Purchasing said, “There is nothing we take more seriously than providing you with the safest and most reliable vehicles.”

Ford’s investigation into this issue is ongoing. However, the company has discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford’s factory.

When a police or fire department routinely install customized emergency lighting, radios and other equipment, they have to drill wiring access holes into the rear of the vehicle. If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin.

To address these concerns, Ford is announcing today it will cover the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Utility that may have this concern, regardless of age, mileage or aftermarket modifications made after purchase.

A spokesman from Ford said, to compare, environmental exposure to carbon monoxide can occur while traveling in vehicles and visiting urban locaations with heavily traveled roads. Carbon monoxide formation during normal metabolism leads to a background carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) concentration of about 0.5-0.8%.

He also said smokers are exposed to considerable amounts of carbon monoxide concentrations, leading to a COHb of about 3-8%.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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