The majority of area schools are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, according to district officials.
Officials at three of the four school districts in Greater Newburyport said all of their schools have CO detectors, while the Triton Regional District reported that only the newly reconstructed Pine Grove Elementary in Rowley has CO alarms.
The alarms were installed because building codes require them in new or extensively renovated school buildings.
Steve Bergholm, director of facilities for Newburyport Public Schools said, "We have had a carbon monoxide detector in each of our schools for several years. They are located in the vicinity of the boiler rooms since that is the location most likely to produce CO."
In the Pentucket Regional School District, five of the six schools have carbon monoxide detectors in specific areas of each school.
Greg Hadden, director of facilities for Pentucket, said CO detectors are installed in the boiler rooms of the high school, middle school and Donaghue and Bagnall elementary schools because the schools burn natural gas in their heating systems. Page Elementary School heats with oil.
The five schools that cook with natural gas – the high school, middle school, Donaghue, Bagnall and Sweetsir – have CO detectors installed in their kitchens. But Page, where electricity runs the kitchen, does not because carbon monoxide is not an issue where electricity is used, Hadden said.
He also said the Pentucket Regional High School gym has CO detectors, which were installed a few years ago in anticipation of a sleepover in the gym.
Hadden said fire chiefs have asked that the installation of CO detectors be considered at the schools because of the anticipated regulation that may require them in the near future.
The new school planned in the Pentucket district will have CO detectors in compliance with state regulations for new school buildings, he said, including the areas that use natural gas, such as the boiler room, kitchen and science labs.
Matt Bennett, director of facilities for the Amesbury School District, said the middle school already had CO detectors but a recent scare at a school in Marblehead prompted his district to purchase smaller detectors for all of its five schools at a cost of roughly $210.
"All of our kitchens work with gas. So we want to at least have a monitor in those areas," Bennett said. "We will be looking at a larger-scale operation later on. Hopefully, we can get an alarm that will sound on our phones but that is going to take a little bit of looking into."
Amesbury is scheduled to break ground on a new elementary school in the spring that Superintendent Jared Fulgoni said will have CO detectors.
"That will be up to code," Fulgoni said. "When you build a new school, it is up to the most recent code. When the rest of the schools were built, carbon monoxide detectors were not part of the code. So they weren't installed then."
Pine Grove Elementary School is the only building of the four in the Triton Regional School District with CO detectors.
Triton Superintendent Brian Forget said in a text message that his district is looking into equipping all of its buildings with CO detectors.
"It is a very expensive proposition," Forget said. "Hard-wired and monitored systems are very costly, and we don’t have a solution in place at the current time to be able to fund it."
Forget said Amesbury's retail solution may work for his district in the short term as well.