Fort Dodge Inspector Avoids Disaster: “Something Didn’t Smell Right”

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Shawn George, Inspector for the City of Fort Dodge averted something bad by going the extra mile. (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

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FORT DODGE, Iowa  --  A potential disaster was averted on Friday the 13th at a rental house in Fort Dodge. City rental housing inspector Shawn George noticed something did not smell right in the basement he was inspecting.

“I was there for routine inspection. When we got down to the basement you can kind of smell the flue gases, the just smell that wasn't right down there,” said George. “So went out and got my four-gas meter to get down in there. It basically pegged out instantly at 499 parts per million, and alarms at 35 ppm.”

The Fire Department came in and confirmed a dangerous situation. George was able to advise the couple living in the home to get out of the house, but they did not require medical treatment.

“The wife had been having headaches, which is a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said George. “She said she always seemed to get worse when she was sitting in a recliner in the living room that was next to the heat vent.”

George found some little pinholes on the water heater flue. He said they were not readily visible, so they would not have been found without an inspection.

City Manager David Fierke praised George's efforts.

“It is above and beyond, because carbon monoxide detection is not part of the rental housing program. We don’t have to have  detectors, but Shawn being pretty alert in what he was doing, noticed there was something wrong,” said Fierke. “For me it’s awesome to have an employee go above and beyond and actually help to save somebody’s life.”

“Make sure you get your furnace checked out yearly, at least before winter gets here,” said George. “Be sure the flue pipes look good."

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