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University buildings to receive fire alarm system upgrade

April 6, 2012

Starting at the beginning of June, UW-River Falls will be replacing or upgrading the fire alarm systems in every building on campus.

The goal of the project is to create a centralized system of reporting for the University, according to Alan Symicek, the facilities engineer at UWRF.

Symicek said that the plan is to set up a head end in Davee Library where each of the buildings will report back to in case of a fire.

“From there it will centrally report out if any building fire alarm system goes off, it will report there and campus police will know about it immediately,” Symicek said.

The current central system set up in South Hall will be removed. Symicek said that the reason Davee Library was chosen as the central location was because it already houses most of the University’s computer systems.

In addition to the campus police being notified, the system will also call the fire department so that they are able to respond.

The current systems in most of the buildings on campus contain only a horn and a strobe light so that the occupants are aware of a fire. It is then up to them to contact the appropriate people such as the fire department in order for the fire to be found and put out.

The plan is for those horns to be taken down and replaced with a speaker so that a voice system can be used and a person within the fire department can notify people as to where a safe exit is inside the building.

Symicek said that the biggest benefit of this new system is that it will no longer require a person inside the building to call anybody. The system will now do it automatically, cutting down any time wasted while people are struggling to figure out what to do in the event of a fire. If the building is unoccupied, the fire department will know about it from the system, rather than somebody who happens to be passing by campus at the time of the fire.

According to the statement of work for the fire detection and alarm project, the buildings that will require a full replacement of the systems include Grimm Hall and McMillan Re- Hall. Other buildings, such as Hagestad Hall and the Karges Center, will be fitted with new control panels and notification appliances. The other 22 buildings on campus will have the firmware within their control panels upgraded to allow the voice system to work.

Mike Moody, the assistant chief of the River Falls fire department, said that he is happy the old system is being replaced.

“You know with the University system, what it is in some of the buildings, [it] is I guess I could say antiquated,” Moody said. “A huge feature that’s going to come out of this new system is identifying where the problem is much better than what it does now,” Moody said.

He said that currently the system can tell the fire department what zone or area a fire may be in, but the new system will allow for them to figure out exactly which detector was set off first.

The cost of everything involved in the project is $887,000. That includes “the design fees for the engineer, the administration fees, and the construction fees,” Symicek said.

The statement of work for the fire detection and alarm project says that most of the buildings will be done this summer and next, with a few buildings getting worked on through next school year. The entire project is scheduled to conclude no later than Aug. 31, 2013.