The coronavirus putting you on edge? Fire alarms add to stress for resident at Cathedral Square home

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Fire alarms in recent weeks repeatedly disturbed residents at a Burlington home for older residents. The alarms, paired with concerns around the coronavirus, has left Sandra Beehler on edge.

She lives at Thayer House, part of the Cathedral Square network and a space for people aged 55 and older. Beehler, 73, falls into a demographic of people who might be at higher risk of complications related to COVID-19, the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019. Loud fire alarms going off in the residence over several weeks only added to Beehler’s stress.

“This is so adding to our stress, you know, on top of the COVID thing,” she said. “Not being able to go out, not being able to see our friends… And then this, on top of it, is just, it’s just too much.” 

Her risk level for the disease, as well as the uncertainty of whether or not she’ll be woken from her sleep, is difficult. 

How many times did alarms go off at Thayer House?

Reports to dispatch for 1197 North Ave., the location of Thayer House, from late April through late May show the following: 

  • April 24: Carbon monoxide incident, 8:10 p.m. 
  • April 24: Assist invalid, 8:31 p.m.
  • April 25: Carbon monoxide incident, 11:04 p.m
  • April 29: Assist invalid, 8:07 a.m. 
  • May 2: CO detector activation due to malfunction, 11:19 p.m.
  • May 3: Carbon monoxide incident, 11:52 p.m. 
  • May 14: Carbon monoxide incident, 8:52 p.m. 
  • May 15: Smoke detector activation, no fire – unintentional, 3:26 p.m.
  • May 24: EMS call, excluding vehicle accident with injury, 6:33 p.m.
  • May 26: Carbon monoxide incident, 4:32 p.m.
  • May 27: Carbon monoxide incident, 4 a.m.
  • May 31: EMS call, excluding vehicle accident with injury, 6:17 p.m. 

Why did alarms go off at Thayer Square?

“We were able to confirm early on that the fire alarm system is functioning as it was designed,” said Burlington Fire Marshal Barry Simays, noting it responded to a low level of carbon monoxide reading in a mechanical room off the garage. 

According to his notes, it looked like a ventilation fan in the room that may have failed to operate. 

“It sounds like it’s just been a nightmare,” said Deborah Bouton, director of communications and outreach with Cathedral Square. She noted boilers have been taken apart and cleaned three times. 

“And then lo-and-behold, it happens again,” she said.

It’s been a headache, she said, sympathizing with those 65 and older being asked to stay in place per Gov. Scott’s orders. As of now it seems like the problem is solved.

“Knock on wood,” she said. “Pretty much anything you can replace or think of that might be causing this to happen has been dealt with at this point.”

‘Cautiously optimistic’

During this time, Beehler tries to stay calm, meditate, read, use the internet.

“I have a lot of things to distract myself with,” she said.

She remained cautiously optimistic, but noted it had only been silent for a week as of Wednesday. 

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89

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