The Richmond Register

January 9, 2013

No district court in Richmond until Monday

Carbon monoxide forces Hall of Justice evacuation


Register staff report

RICHMOND — The Madison Hall of Justice will be closed until next week after the building was evacuated Wednesday morning when firefighters detected carbon monoxide in the building.

The Richmond Fire Department was called at 8:30 a.m. by district court personnel who said there was an odd smell in the West Main Street building.

Firefighters found a faulty heating coil in the building, and ambient air tests detected carbon monoxide in the building’s elevator lobbies (10 parts per million) and upper corridors (8 ppm), said RFD Capt. Daniel Clark.

In the basement around the building’s gas furnace, the CO reading was 200 ppm.

The furnace was shut off, and the building was evacuated, Clark said.

Firefighters used emergency fans to ventilate the building, and Richmond Utilities, the gas provider and Total Comfort – a heating, ventilation and air conditioning vendor – were called.

District court personnel were tested for carbon monoxide inhalation, but no one needed treatment, Clark said.

After the furnace was shut off and emergency ventilators deployed, detectors show the CO had been removed, allowing HVAC personnel to work.

The health effects of exposure to high CO levels depends on the length of time someone inhales it along with the person’s health condition, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.. Most people do not have symptoms from prolonged exposure to 1 to 70 ppm, but a heart patient might have chest pain.

Prolonged exposure above 70 ppm can cause symptoms like headache, fatigue and nausea, the CPSC reports. Levels above 150 to 200 ppm can lead to disorientation, unconsciousness and possible death.

District court normally conducts preliminary hearings on Wednesday, which fills the main courtroom with defendants, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, clerks and spectators.

District court scheduling

The Madison Hall of Justice will be closed until Monday, according to a news release from Madison Circuit Court Clerk Darlene Snyder.

“All court matters for district court will be continued until a later date and notices of those dates will be mailed to all parties,” Snyder stated.

Friday’s Berea district court docket will be heard as scheduled, the release stated.

Also, the Berea Circuit Clerk’s office will remain open for the rest of the week to assist the public with any district court concerns, questions, payments or other needs. Driver’s licenses also will be issued at the Berea office, Snyder said.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Berea Municipal Building, 304 Chestnut Street. The phone number is 986-4212.

All other circuit court offices in Richmond will be open as usual, and the circuit court dockets are not affected.