Security Magazine

Ohio University to Use FEMA Grant to Reduce False Dorm Alarms

September 15, 2010

Ohio University will use a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for $387,848 to purchase about 4,500 Safe-T-sensors for residence hall rooms. The Safe-T-sensors will be installed on all microwaves in university housing facilities during the next three to six months. The sensor recognizes the presence of smoke in very small quantities and will shut off microwaves before the building smoke detector and alarm system is activated.
 
"Our hope is that the Safe-T-sensors reduce Athens Fire Department (AFD) nuisance runs to residence halls by a minimum of 75 percent," said Joe Adams, director of OU Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
 
A study by EHS based on information provided by AFD found that the majority of the fire department's nuisance alarms on campus were caused by burned food in microwave ovens. EHS submitted the grant application to FEMA in October 2009 to help reduce the occurrence of nuisance fire alarms and the associated runs by AFD to university housing facilities. Adams estimated a cost of more than $2,000 for AFD to make a run to campus.
 
The remaining FEMA grant funds will be used for training and education programs for students on the new sensors and general residence hall fire safety, according to the release.