APD says carbon monoxide alert in fixed Ford SUV was a false alarm


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin police chief said Friday evening that two carbon monoxide alarms activated in a recently repaired Ford Explorer Police Interceptor unit were false alarms.

“A Ford Police Interceptor we believed to have leaked carbon monoxide into the passenger area, did not,” Chief Brian Manley said. Testing on the vehicle has been conducted and found that the two alarms may have been activated for other reasons. The chief said the department does not believe the issue is related to Ford’s repairs on their vehicles.

Ten of the vehicles were back on the streets after being repaired by Ford due to carbon monoxide issues. The Police Department had said the vehicles would “undergo vigorous testing” prior to being placed back into full service.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told KXAN the department will conduct further testing on the vehicle to try to figure out what caused the alarms to go off in the first place.

The vehicle was among the first handful to be put back in service after the repairs, and Casaday said he can’t see APD putting the rest of the SUVs back on the road without first determining why the sensors went off, adding officers are disappointed they might not get the newer cars back just yet.

“The vehicles that they’re driving now,” Casaday said, “most of the vehicles have over 100,000 miles on them, they’ve been beat up after years of police work — car chases, driving fast.”

In-Depth Coverage of APD Fleet Carbon Monoxide Issues

Austin police initially said the vehicle’s two CO detectors were triggered early Friday morning, and an officer was treated by medics at the scene.

In a memo dated Oct. 3, Police Chief Manley along with the interim fleet officer sent a memo to the interim city manager stating the department recently received the first 10 repaired vehicles from Ford and was starting the transitioning process to get the SUVs back on the streets. The memo goes on to say that the vehicles that are placed back in service would “undergo additional testing at maintenance intervals.”

The Associated Press reports the Ford Motor Company says “the methods and parts we’ve utilized to repair Austin’s vehicles have worked well to address” carbon monoxide concerns. Ford spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt responded the automaker “was not provided with information on the levels of CO detected but we are ready to inspect any vehicle.”

At the end of July, APD pulled nearly 400 Ford SUVs in order to get the vehicles fixed by Ford. APD experienced the first carbon monoxide issues back in February when two officers reported problems with their vehicle. In March, an APD sergeant experienced a significant issue.

Ford Motor Company is covering the cost of specific repairs in every police interceptor with a leak concern, regardless of age, mileage or after-market modifications made. The company originally said they discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some units. To rectify the problem, the company is doing three things: check the seal of the rear of the vehicle where exhaust can enter, provide a new air conditioning calibration to bring in more fresh air during heavy acceleration and check for engine codes that could indicate a damaged exhausted manifold.

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