HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The weekend death of a restaurant manager on Long Island from carbon monoxide fumes has lawmakers considering new legislation to prevent future tragedies.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, Suffolk County legislator William Spencer said in the aftermath of the fatal incident at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, all businesses inspected by the health department should be required to install carbon monoxide detectors.
Spencer also said first responders should be outfitted with CO detectors.
“Our first responders should be protected. I think that they should have portable detectors so that when they’re rushing into an emergency situation, they can be aware,” Spencer told Xirinachs.
Restaurant manager Steven Nelson, 55, was found dead in the basement of Legal Sea Foods Saturday night. More than two dozen other people were sent to hospitals for treatment.
Captain Mark Cappola told CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes that he had no idea that carbon monoxide would hit him and other first responders when they arrived at the restaurant.
“In retrospect I probably was feeling it more than I wanted to admit but most of it’s adrenaline that’s keeping you going,” he said.
Captain Cappola said that he felt nauseous and dizzy while performing CPR on General Manager Steve Nelson who eventually died.
“Running up and down stairs, getting equipment. I really though I was just out of shape because I couldn’t breathe,” he said.
A faulty water heater flue pipe caused the carbon monoxide leak, officials said. The fumes were circulated in the basement by the ventilation systems at the restaurant.
Until new legislation can be passed, Spencer said people should take action to make sure carbon monoxide detectors are set up.
“People need to take the moment to examine their homes, their businesses,” he said. “About 400 people die every year because of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Spencer, a medical doctor, noted carbon monoxide detectors cost as little as $20 and can save lives.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all have state laws that require carbon monoxide detectors in homes. Connecticut also requires them in schools.
Long Island State Senator Carl Marcellino said on Monday, that he wants to take the policy even further. He introduced legislation that would require detectors in restaurants and commercial buildings including schools.
“This legislation will save lives. It’s unfortunate we have to do these things. One would think common sense would rule,” Marcellino said.
Fire experts said that building codes are the minimum when it comes to safety requirements and that owners need to think about how they can go above and beyond what is required by law.
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