Bellevue Fire Department
Media Release
-For Immediate Release-

October 19, 2000

Unknown Irritant Forces Workers From
Office Building

On Thursday evening at 8:07 p.m., units from the Bellevue Fire Department
responded to a potential hazardous materials situation in a two-story office
building located in the Bellefield Office Park at 1745 114th Ave SE. At
the time of the emergency 9-1-1 call, a number of employees from AAA of
Washington who were responsible for maintaining the 24-hour Road Service
Dispatch Center, complained of having a headache with nausea, accompanied by
a burning sensation in their eyes and throat. A total of two Engine
Companies, an Aid Unit, a Truck Company, and a Battalion Chief all responded
to the incident location. Overall, 14 firefighters were responsible for
removing patients from the building, monitoring their condition, and
determining the source of the irritant.

For some, these irritating symptoms began approximately eight hours earlier
in the day as construction activity took place in several locations around
the building, including some necessary heating and air conditioning work in
the ceiling space above the affected room. In all, 15 workers were removed
from this section of the second floor, ten of which described having
experienced various levels of these symptoms. They were all taken to an
area outside the building where they could breathe fresh air, and
firefighters could monitor their vital signs. After approximately 20
minutes, most of the symptoms had diminished to a lesser degree for nearly
everyone who was affected. The Bellevue Fire Department transported no
patients to the hospital. Eventually five of the ten affected employees
decided to go home, and the rest remained at work.

The Bellevue Fire Department has advised AAA of Washington not to utilize
the room occupied by the 24-hour dispatch center until a representative from
the heating and air conditioning company can eliminate the possibility that
a minor Freon gas leak was not a factor in causing the irritating symptoms.
In the mean time, officials from AAA are currently gathering a small group
of people who will set up and operate a temporary dispatch center from
another room in their offices. On an average night, AAA of Washington
receives approximately 25 to 50 calls per hour for roadside assistance
between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight.

Lt. Todd E. Dickerboom
Community Liaison Officer
Bellevue Fire Department
Office: (425)-452-6995
Pager: (206)-680-0848
Fax: (425)-452-5287