Lowcountry law enforcement install detectors in Ford Explorers

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Center for Auto Safety is urging Ford Motor Company to recall more than 1.3 million Explorers to prevent possible carbon monoxide exposure.

Several Lowcountry law enforcement agencies have installed carbon monoxide detectors to protect them from poisoning.

Those agencies include Charleston, Charleston County, Mount Pleasant, Dorchester County, Summerville and Berkeley County.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide in a few of their Ford Interceptor Utility Vehicles, it's the law enforcement model of an Explorer.

Law enforcement take an oath to serve and protect and now they're left with no option but to take an extra step to protect themselves from a silent killer, carbon monoxide.

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis says there have 41 explorer model vehicles in their fleet.

The ones showing dangerous level of carbon monoxide have been taken off the streets.

The detectors monitor carbon monoxide levels and beep to alert the driver when levels become too high.

"It is a silent dangerous situation for anyone," Lewis said. "Especially when you spend 12 or 14 hours in a vehicle constantly, for the deputy sheriff these vehicles are their office."

Ford is offering no cost repairs for law enforcement.

Ford officials say the installation of police equipment like emergency lighting creates holes that allow fumes to seep in.

On the other hand, the Lewis says people who equip the cars say it's a Ford Factory issue.

"We are not putting any vehicles on the road that have the dangerous levels ," Lewis said. "We are not putting any deputies lives or safety or health at risk."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating more than 2,700 complaints of carbon monoxide exposure and reports of injuries and accidents linked to Explorers. 

The sheriff's office is working with local ford dealerships to find a solution.

Ford has not issued a recall and says its normal civilian explorers are safe.

Ford officials say it will begin offering limited-time services at no charge for people with Explorer models from 2011 to 2017 to give consumer's a peace of mind.

Dealers will reprogram the air conditioner, replace the liftgate drain valves, and inspect the sealing at the rear of the vehicles starting Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

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