Six Ford SUVs in the Washington State Patrol fleet have been sent to the dealership for repairs after troopers reported possible carbon monoxide exposure symptoms.
WSP spokesperson Kyle Moore says since January, six troopers have suffered symptoms "similar to carbon monoxide" poisoning. Two troopers were hospitalized.
One of the hospitalized troopers had high levels of carbon monoxide poisoning. The other trooper while exhibiting symptoms was not a confirmed case. Those two troopers are back on the road.
Ford Interceptors and Explorers are used by local law enforcement agencies, including Seattle Police Department and Washington State Patrol.
WSP has 645 Ford Interceptors and Explorers in its fleet. After the second case of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in February, WSP began installing carbon monoxide detectors in all their newly built patrol cars.
Forty-nine vehicles have hardwired detector units to date. WSP hopes to have the detectors, either hardwired or battery-powered, in all of its Interceptor vehicles in 4-6 weeks.
The six SUVs sent to the dealership by WSP needed the exhaust manifold repaired or replaced, but no accidents have occurred.
When the rest of the vehicles come in for scheduled maintenance, they'll get the detectors installed. The state patrol also plans to put carbon monoxide detectors in any new vehicles added to the fleet and add detectors to any vehicle with a driver who requests one. State patrol said it will have detectors installed in all cars in three to four weeks.
Earlier this week, Austin Police Department decided to pull all of its Ford SUV patrol cars from the roads after possible carbon monoxide leaks inside the patrol vehicles.
Three Austin PD officers were pulled from the line of duty after possible carbon monoxide exposure, KVUE reports. Twenty officers have had measurable carbon monoxide in their systems, and 62 workers compensation forms have been submitted there.
WSP is not planning to remove vehicles from the fleet, because there is not a surplus of cars to replace them while they are off the road, according to Captain Shane Nelson. With limited staffing, Nelson said there was concern they wouldn't be able to provide necessary services to the public.
If troopers do experience symptoms or smell exhaust while they are driving, WSP is encouraging them to vent their car and report the issue.
"Making sure they are aware of what the signs and symptoms are they can help themselves be prepared," Nelson said.
Ford said in a statement that safety is its top priority, and that a team is working with investigators from police agencies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to solve the problems. Ford also said it would cover the cost of specific repairs in Police Interceptor Utilities that has a carbon monoxide concern.
The problem has been most prominent in Austin, so investigators are working to determine if the problem is due to manufacturing or if Austin officials are altering the cars to cause the leaks.
Police in Seattle, Everett, Bellevue, Tacoma, and a handful of other agencies said they have not had any issues with the vehicles but are monitoring the situation, and some departments have already installed or are planning to install CO monitors.
Early Friday evening, Ford released a statement saying the exhaust smell issue some Explorer owners complained of is not related to the police Interceptor problem, and the company says it's pretty confident it knows the cause.
KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen, Liza Javier, Bryce Newberry and Allison Sundell have contributed to this report.