New fire alarms, elevator phones to improve security

University Park, Pa. — In efforts that will increase security and emergency response capabilities on the University Park campus, Penn State's Office of Physical Plant is in the process of replacing outdated fire alarms and installing emergency elevator phones in buildings across campus, the University's Board of Trustees learned Friday (Sept. 17).

In the current phase, fire alarm systems will be replaced in 18 buildings as part of a larger project that includes 60 total buildings at a cost of $3.25 million.

"Alarm systems are continuously assessed for condition and required functionality," said Ford Stryker, associate vice president for physical plant. "Over time, some of these systems have become antiquated and cannot handle required strobes and automatic fire detection."

Each system will include horns and strobes in public areas, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as automatic detection in corridors and support spaces such as mechanical and electrical rooms and air handling units. The systems also will monitor and control sprinklers, smoke evacuation and fan shutdown, and panels will be tied into the Central Fire Alarm Monitoring and Control system monitored by OPP and University Police.

Remote control capabilities include alarm activation and silencing, system reset and disarming of automatic detection devices.

In the last phase of a project to install emergency elevator phone systems in all existing campus buildings, the two-way communications devices will be installed in 107 elevator cars in 66 campus buildings, with an associated total cost of more than $1 million.

Stryker said the phones will allow passengers in distress to be in direct contact with Penn State Police by simply picking up the phone.

"The emergency phones are necessary for code compliance, but also will help provide a safer environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors," Stryker added.

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Last Updated April 15, 2011