Rochester firefighters on Tuesday rescued
a couple who had passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning
in their house.
Fire Capt. Dan McBride said firefighters
were called to 25 Alice St. about 7:30 a.m. and found the
two unconscious on the floor.
Frank Hoffman, 52, and his fiancee, Cui
Qing Chen, were treated at Strong Memorial Hospital and
McBride said they were lucky.
One firefighter's gas detector immediately
registered 2,000 parts of carbon monoxide per million parts
of air. That is the maximum registration, so the concentration
could have been higher, McBride said. Anybody who breathes
1,600 parts per million likely will die after an hour, he
A household carbon monoxide detector will
begin beeping at 100 parts per million, he said.
Hoffman said he's thankful for the department's
quick response and said he has accepted an invitation to
have lunch with the firefighters in the Gardiner Avenue
"They apologized for breaking the door,"
he said. "I said, 'Geez, that's the least of my problems.'
The gas buildup was caused by a blocked
chimney flue, McBride said. The house has a gas boiler and
Hoffman said he had been gone from the
house for three days because he had gone to Chicago to pick
up his fiancee, who had flown in from China. He had met
her in 1999 while he was working there for Eastman Kodak
Hoffman said he had arrived at the house
shortly after 6 a.m. and noticed a strange odor. He made
sure the boiler and stove were working properly, then assumed
there had been a slight sewer backup while he was gone.
Cui went upstairs and collapsed. They thought
perhaps she was weak from hunger and travel, so they lay
But Cui would not respond when Hoffman tried
to wake her up. So he called 911, and the dispatcher told
him to get out of the house.
"I carried her into the kitchen," Hoffman
said. "Then I don't remember anything until the paramedics
were reviving me outside."
Hoffman said he plans to buy a carbon monoxide
detector right away. He had been waiting for them to go
"That's a case of me being too cheap for
my own good."
By Patrick Flanigan
Democrat and Chronicle (March 27, 2002) Reprinted With Permition
From The Democrat and Chronicle