BYU students get CO scare at university’s approved off-campus housing

Posted at 9:45 PM, Dec 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-15 23:45:15-05

PROVO, Utah -- A group of students at Brigham Young University are criticizing the school and their landlords for a carbon monoxide leak they believe could have killed them.

According to four roommates, a carbon monoxide detector in their unit had repeatedly sounded its alarm over the course of a week, but

management never properly responded to their concerns.

“It just baffles me that the maintenance and the management wouldn’t take this situation more seriously,” said Alex Martin, a senior at BYU.

The students live at the 9 and 9 Apartments, which is off-campus housing approved by the university.

According to Martin, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8, he and his classmates lodged several complaints about the alarm with property managers.

Initially, Martin said maintenance believed the alarm was too close to a vent, so it was moved.  However, when the alarm was triggered again, maintenance believed the system was faulty and replaced it.

“I understand they installed a detector, which is very helpful and I’m grateful for that,” Martin said. “But I feel like they didn’t understand what it meant when it went off.”

It was not until Martin’s parents contacted the apartment complex that the managers notified the Provo Fire Department of the alarm.

A test of the apartment found carbon monoxide levels of 200 parts per million inside a closet, where the unit’s water heater was stored.

“This is something that could have cost lives,” said Capt. Dean York of the Provo Fire Department.

According to investigators, the water heater had malfunctioned, causing the gas to leak out.

“They should have called 911. That’s what we’re here for,” York said. “If I’m a manager getting a call from a student saying, ‘my detector is beeping. What do I do?’ I’d have them call 911 and evacuate until they can prove otherwise.”

FOX 13 contacted the manager of 9 and 9 Apartments Monday, but our calls were never returned.

Administrators at BYU’s off-campus housing office told FOX 13 they contract with the complex, but cannot require the property to provide or maintain CO detectors.  They would not comment further on the incident.

Management at the complex replaced the water heater the day after the leak was discovered. However, since then, Martin said they have not heard from anyone.

“I want them to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “All four of us in that apartment could have died.”

The roommates plan to request that the complex implement a new safety protocol to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.