News / Calgary

Group petitions for stricter carbon monoxide detector regulations in Alberta following 'tragic' death

A 12-year-old boy was removed from life support on Sunday, after extremely elevated levels of CO were discovered inside an apartment in the building his family lived in

A picture from a GoFundMe page shows Trai, left, Elysha, and partner Jayla.

GOFUNDME / Calgary Freelance

A picture from a GoFundMe page shows Trai, left, Elysha, and partner Jayla.

A group of surrogate mothers say the death of a 12-year-old boy in Airdrie this week was preventable, and are calling for stronger legislation surrounding carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in Alberta.

Heather Morigeau is a member of the same surrogate agency as Elysha Schlichter, who’s son Trai was removed from life support on Sunday, after extremely elevated levels of CO were discovered inside an apartment in the complex the family lived in.

Schlichter was a three-time surrogate mother.

“(Their family) just moved here, but I’ve spent time with Elysha at the surrogacy retreats and events – we always laughed and connected,” Morigeau, who lives in Calgary, told Metro.

“She’s the kind of person who gives so much of herself that when something tragic like this happens, you just want to do whatever you can to try and help.”

An investigation by Airdrie RCMP, ATCO, the City of Airdrie and the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) into the CO leak is still ongoing.

Officials have declined to comment on whether or not the unit the boy and his family lived in was the same unit where the invisible, odourless gas came from, but AFD Deputy Chief Garth Rabel told Metro on Monday that crews didn’t find any CO detectors in any of the units they were working in on Sunday.

Morigeau said the group of surrogates are petitioning Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown to push for changes to Alberta’s Building Code, which currently does not require landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors in rental or condo units.

“We’re hoping for support from our elected officials to help us get to that level where we can approach the province (to tighten the regulations),” she said.

“To the same level we protect our families from fire, we want to protect them from the CO damage that took Trai’s life … particularly in rental properties where there’s multiple families living.”

In Alberta, multi-family residential buildings with common heating systems are required to install CO alarms inside garages, rooms surrounding furnace and boiler rooms, and parking garages, but they are not required inside the residential units unless they contain an appliance that generates the gas.

CO detectors are also required inside all new one and two-family homes containing a fuel-burning appliance, a solid-fuel-burning appliance, or a storage garage – although the requirements are not retroactive in existing homes or apartment buildings built before 2007.

A spokesperson for Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs, Shaye Anderson, said the province was “deeply saddened” to hear about Trai’s death.

“Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, we strongly encourage the use of carbon monoxide alarms in all buildings,” said Lauren Arscott. “The safety of Albertans is always a key priority for us, and carbon monoxide is no exception.”

The petition, called “Project Trai,” also questions why a previous evacuation related to CO at the same Airdrie apartment complex in 2014 wasn’t a wake-up call.

No one was seriously hurt in that incident, but a maintenance worker was transported to hospital in stable, non-life threatening condition for symptoms of CO exposure that included a headache and nausea, the Airdrie City View reported at the time.

“(Trai’s death) should never have happened,” the petition reads. “Because the landowners will not protect the people, we demand the city to step up!”

It had garnered more than 2,400 signatures by Tuesday morning.

The province recommends testing CO alarms once a month and changing their batteries once a year, if needed. They should be replaced every eight to 10 years, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and vacuumed regularly.

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