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First wave of fire Safe-T-Sensors installed in residence halls

Sensors could reduce false fire alarms by 50 percent

The installation of more than 4,500 new Safe-T-Sensors in Ohio University residence halls is underway and their presence could save the university and city thousands of dollars each year.

Safe-T-Sensors detect the presence of smoke in small quantities and shut off the device it is connected to before the building smoke detector and alarm system is activated.

During winter break, about 4,000 sensors were installed on microwaves in university housing facilities on the South, East and North greens. West Green rooms will receive their sensors during spring break in March.

The units are automatic and require no action on the part of the user. If activated, the unit will interrupt the power to the microwave and beep. Once the smoke has cleared, the sensor will automatically reset and restore power to the microwave.

A recent Ohio University Environmental Health and Safety study found that the majority of the Athens Fire Department's nuisance alarms on campus were caused by burnt food in microwave ovens.

In October 2009, the Ohio University, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department submitted a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding to help reduce the occurrence of nuisance fire alarms in University housing facilities. In July 2010, FEMA approved the grant request and the awarded more than $387,000 to purchase and install the Safe-T-Sensors and conduct fire safety education and training.

Joe Adams, associate vice president for risk management and safety, said his staff expects the sensors to make an immediate impact.

"We anticipate the number of fire department runs to be reduced by half," Adams said. "If this happens, it will create significant cost savings for both the university and city."
Adams said the sensors are considered fire safety equipment and tampering with or disabling them is considered a serious criminal offense. He added that residents are required to read the provided Safe-T-Sensor brochure and become aware of the device's safety aspects. An informational brochure and a magnetic card were placed
on each microwave and posters were posted on the bulletin boards in the residence halls.

Any questions or problems should be brought to the attention of fire safety officers in the EHS Department at 740-597-1748 or 740-593-1665.