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Buffalo firefighters are being equipped for improved response to the increasing number of carbon monoxide alarms in the city.

American Sensors, a Toronto-based manufacturer of gas detectors, assisted Thursday in the training of several fire officials, who then will teach others in the Fire Department how to detect carbon monoxide in the home.

In addition, the company donated 15 hand-held carbon monoxide detectors to the Fire Department. Each is valued at about $800.

William E. Smith, manager of educational services for American Sensors, said the donated units are far more sophisticated than the carbon monoxide detectors that residents can purchase and install themselves.

Smith said the commercial devices "respond instantly to the presence of carbon monoxide, right down to one-part-per-million."

Firefighters would use the hand-held devices when responding to reports of possible carbon monoxide poisoning at a city residence.

"When you call the Fire Department, they'll have the equipment to be able to tell you you have a problem and here is what you should do," said Smith.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, which make it difficult to detect.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms.

"It is generally agreed that as the public and emergency responders get more familiar with the problems of carbon monoxide and how they should respond, the calls to (fire departments) should be reduced," said Smith.

Capt. Jack Sniderhan, a hazardous materials officer with the Fire Department, said the donation of the 15 detectors means the department can begin to take an active approach to combating carbon monoxide poisoning.

"In the past, we relied on National Fuel, because they have metering capabilities," Sniderhan said.

"This winter, we changed our policy. We started sending some of our hazardous materials teams (to calls of possible carbon monoxide poisoning), because they had monitoring capabilities."

"By American Sensors donating these (detectors), it gives us what we needed," Sniderhan added.

Sniderhan said the units will go to different fire companies across the city.

The department will also purchase monitoring devices that can detect the presence of numerous hazardous gases simultaneously, he said.

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