Florence police keeping carbon monoxide detectors in patrol Explorers

Published: Aug. 4, 2017 at 12:44 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2017 at 8:27 AM CDT
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FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - There are growing concerns among police departments across the country, as well as the Ford Motor Co. about high levels of carbon monoxide in department issued Ford Explorers. Several departments in north Alabama drive those vehicles. One of them is the Florence Police Department. And top brass there say they aren't taking any chances with their fleet.

"Just today, the Florence Police Department purchased six more of these carbon monoxide detectors to put in all of their Ford Explorers to ensure that all of their officers are safe," said Sgt. Robby Talcott.

Twelve Florence police vehicles are now equipped with the emergency devices to alert them if the colorless, odorless gas is in their car. It's something the officers asked for.

"The patrol cars are our offices. A good eight hours of that shift is spent in the car patrolling or writing reports and that sort of thing," Talcott said.

Talcott said an email was sent out warning their officers to let the department heads know if they ever feel sick working in their cars and to immediately roll down the window.

The detectors will make a noise if levels reach 70 parts per million. Officials say if it reaches 200, the toxic fumes could cause serious injury.

So far, one of their vehicle's carbon monoxide alarms went off.

"He said it went off. He said he rolled his windows down and it immediately turned back off and did not go back off again and has not had an issue with it going off back again," Talcott said.

Until federal regulators finish their investigation into the carbon monoxide complaints, the Florence Police Department plans to keep the detectors in working order.

"The safety and welfare of our officers is the first thing and most important thing for any of us in supervision. To make sure that the guys get to go home every night is the primary responsibility of what we do," said Talcott.

For the time being, Florence police will keep the detectors in their vehicles.

Ford Press Release on action they are taking to investigate issue

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

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.

Ford will:

1. Check and seal off the rear of the vehicle where exhaust can enter

2. Provide a new air conditioning calibration that brings in more fresh air during heavy acceleration typical of police driving

3. Check for engine codes that could indicate a damaged exhaust manifold.

Ford will continue investigating all reports from its police customers, including the exhaust manifold issue referenced by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If a customer believes their vehicle may be experiencing an issue, they should bring it to a Ford dealer, who is equipped to assess the vehicle and address the problem. Customers also can call a dedicated hotline at 888-260-5575.

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