Leverett employee sickened by CO

LEVERETT — A malfunctioning furnace in Town Hall set off alarms and filled the building with high levels of carbon monoxide early New Year’s Day, sickening one employee who was at work there and triggering a response from the town’s Fire Department.

The Selectboard discussed the incident Tuesday and said the furnace has had numerous problems since its installation three years ago.

John Kuczek, manager of town facilities in Leverett, told the board he received a call from the alarm company around 1 a.m. Jan. 1 and went to the building, where firefighters already had responded. Upon entering the building, Kuczek said he found the interior filled with smoke and very high levels of carbon monoxide in the air.

“You could smell the soot and carbon smoke,” he said.

Kuczek said he inspected the furnaces and discovered that the unit which heats the second floor was emitting black smoke, prompting him to shut the furnaces down, turn off the oil line and ventilate the building. He said the smoke stopped about five minutes later, at which point he secured the building and restarted the first-floor unit.

The faulty furnace was repaired by T.J. Conway Co. of Springfield on Jan. 2, and since has been operating properly.

Dee Ann Civello, the town treasurer and tax collector, said she had been in the building on New Year’s Eve until about 12:45 a.m. Jan. 1. Civello said she had experienced drowsiness, dizziness and a headache while working, but at the time attributed it to working late. Civello said she did not seek medical attention.

According to Kuczek, additional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were installed in the building shortly after the incident and are functioning properly.

The furnaces from Adams Manufacturing Co. of Cleveland were installed three years ago as a part of an energy-efficiency upgrade and, according to the Selectboard, have experienced a number of problems including an October 2011 incident in which some of the wires in the circuitry melted.

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