Odor is cause of alarm in Votey

“EMERGENCY: Small Fire at Voety. The building is evacuated and Fire Department is on scene,” the UVM CatAlert stated. Misspelling Votey Hall, the University’s rapid emergency notification system warned students about a potential danger in t he Central Campus building on April 13. An oven on the second floor of the science building heated up aluminum foil cups and released carbon monoxide gases, according to the WCAX News website. “Fire officials say CO itself has no scent, but the aluminum released a strong odor that filled the entire building,” the WCAX News website stated. One of the professors smelled the odor produced by the oven and pulled the alarm, Burlington fire marshal Terry Francis said. “Smoke spread throughout the second floor and UVM had to use specialized equipment to ventilate the building,” Francis said. Students were allowed to get their belongings from the building with an escort after the situation was under control, he said.   “Both students and professors were very cooperative throughout the incident,” Francis said. UVM has spent tens of millions of dollars to upgrade fire safety, which means the fires are often small and easily handled, he said. “Almost all our calls are accidental fires caused by human error or poor judgment on equipment,” Francis said. CatAlert, the emergency notification system, relayed the situation to students as it happened, warning them to steer clear of the building. “A campuswide facility safety plan allows students to know what’s going on and reduce traffic near the building,” he said. Students were generally happy to be informed about the incident, but feel as though CatAlert could be improved. “I think it’s great that they told me, but I wish there had been a faster way,” first year Eden Pirog said. “I only got an email, so I didn’t even know about it until 14 hours later.” Francis supports the CatAlert System and said that the fire department is working on making a Facebook page so that they can stay connected with students. “It’s important for the UVM community to get accurate information in a timely fashion,” he said.