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Fire dept. installs new alarms

Adam Llorens | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Notre Dame Fire Department (NDFD) recently upgraded 16 residence halls with new fire alarm systems, in hopes of creating a safer and more hospitable environment on campus, and will install better alarms in other buildings as well, Notre Dame Fire Department Chief William Farhat said.

Mike McCauslin, assistant director for Risk Management and Safety, arranged funding of the project.

“Concerns had been expressed by both students and rectors about actually hearing the fire alarms,” McCauslin said. “Older dorms only had alarms in common spaces and corridors throughout the residence hall, not in individual rooms.”

The new system is built with sounder-based technology, McCauslin said. This technology placed an actual alarm in every room in these residence halls, and residents will be able to hear the alarm at all times.

“The newer West Quad residence halls were built with sounder-based technology enhanced fire alarm systems,” McCauslin said. “We recently identified the halls that did not have those types of alarms. The Office of Risk Management and Safety then went to the University to ask for funding, which was then granted.”

Farhat also played a major role in the efforts to upgrade the fire systems in various dorms.

“This is a progressing project which got its start in August and will be going on until March,” Farhat said. “It is difficult to upgrade systems when the halls are occupied, but this project, while expensive, is one that the University felt was necessary.”

The 16 dorms across campus to received newer systems recently tested the new alarms recently to ensure their effectiveness, Farhat said. During the test, NDFD did not find a flawed system in any of the dorms.

The 16 residence halls were merely the first goal of Notre Dame’s fire alarm renovation project.

“In addition to the 16 dorms that were upgraded, University Village and other off-campus apartments associated with Notre Dame will also be revamped,” Farhat said.

Farhat said NDFD does more work on campus than respond to fires. The majority of calls received per school year do not concern fires.

“NDFD takes about 13,000 calls per school year,” Farhat said. “While not all of them deal with fire-related issues, it is important all on-campus residents understand the importance and severity of a potential fire. The four fire drills required by the Indiana Fire Code are an essential aspect in creating a safe, emergency-free atmosphere.”

McCauslin said he believes students and staff should be elated to have these new alarms.

“The Notre Dame community should be thrilled that the University continues to invest in their safety,” McCauslin said. “When you look across the country at the number of fires that occur on college campuses, Notre Dame continues to make great strides in reducing the chances of potential disasters and promoting the lifestyle and safety of its residents.”