Installation of new smoke detectors near completion

By Rob Heselbarth

The ongoing installation of high-tech smoke detectors in NIU’s residence halls is near completion.

Installation began in 1987 in order to comply with Illinois public act 83-719, which requires all Illinois universities to install smoke detection systems in all residence halls.

To date, installation has been completed in Gilbert Hall, Douglas Hall, Lincoln Hall, Stevenson Towers North, Stevenson Towers South, and Grant Towers North.

Next in line for completion are Grant Towers South and the Neptune complex.

James Bryant, interim director of Architectural and Engineering Services, said the budget for the completed installations in each of the residence halls was $350,000.

The budget for the remaining buildings is expected to be $350,000 as well, Bryant said.

Bryant said the money came out of a revenue bond fund for the maintenance of university residence halls.

Richard Schimmoler, superintendent of electrical construction for Architectural and Engineering Services, said the new smoke detection system will be controlled by a microprocessor.

“The new system is an addressable system in which each individual detector in each corridor will continually talk to the main control panel,” he said.

Schimmoler said the status of each detector will constantly be monitored. “If the detector is dirty, or it needs maintenance, it will tell the main computer and we will be able to determine its exact location and fix it promptly,” he said.

The entire existing system was removed and replaced with smoke detectors, except for some areas where the existing heat sensors were still necessary.

“Smoke detectors give you an earlier response than heat sensors,” Schimmoler said.

He said smoke detectors which are independent of the main control panel are being installed in each room. If a cigarette or candle set off the detector in a room, the main system will not be alerted.

The project is set to be completed by the summer of 1994.

Bryant explained why the project will end up taking seven years.

“We can only work on the residence halls which are closed for the summer,” he said. “There must be a smoke detection system in operation in any building where people are residing.”

Schimmoler said they have been able to complete one residence hall a year. “Hopefully we will be able to keep up with this pace,” he said.