Protected from dangerous fumes

Early in my engineering career, I traveled to a coal-fired power plant with some senior engineers. I was asked to go to the flat rooftop of the plant to take photos of some structural elements. 

This power plant’s roof was over one hundred feet across in both directions, and as I headed toward the middle of the roof to take photos, I began having trouble breathing. A wave of fear came over me when I realized that gas from the boiler was escaping through tiny cracks in the roofing material, and that the gas had displaced the oxygen I needed to breathe. I was completely alone, without a cellphone or other communication device, and was afraid I would pass out before reaching fresh air at the edge of the roof—which was forty or fifty feet away. 

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