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New fire and safety systems to go in residence halls

Substantial improvements will be made to the fire and life safety systems in residence halls because of the Board of Regents' Dec. 12 approval of plans by the Division of Student Affairs for the next phase of its multi-year program.

The regents approved three projects totaling $6.85 million for fire detection alarm systems in Baits II Houses, South Quadrangle and Stockwell Hall.
Photo courtesy Onity Inc. and Alan Levy, University Housing Public Affairs.

"There is no higher responsibility that we have than to protect as best as possible the lives of our 9,500 residence hall residents in the event of a serious fire or other major building emergency," says Royster Harper, vice president for Student Affairs.

The $1.5 million Baits II and $850,000 Stockwell Hall projects replace older systems with a new one that meets current codes and standards, including those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Construction at both halls is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1, 2003.

South Quadrangle, U-M's only high-rise residence hall, will be upgraded with a new fire suppression and fire detection alarm system. The $4.5 million project, scheduled for completion in spring 2004, will replace a partial fire suppression system currently in place with sprinklers throughout the nine-story building.

Funding for these projects will come from currently available University Housing reserves. The projects increase the number of resident rooms fully outfitted to alert hearing impaired people of emergencies.

Student Affairs also will take measures to improve personal safety and security by decreasing the prospects for opportunistic crimes and enhancing the ability of campus security to identify residence hall intruders and other non-authorized entry.

Onity Inc. (formerly TESA Entry Systems) has been awarded a contract to install automatic stand-alone electronic locks on all student room and bathroom doors in all U-M residence halls. These locks, which have been installed in many hotels for the last decade, are designed to curtail home invasions in resident rooms with unlocked doors. Residents initially will recieve a key card to enter their rooms and designated bathrooms. Installation currently is underway at East Quadrangle to be completed early in the winter term. The electronic locks will be installed in other residence halls throughout 2003.

In the third major component of enhanced security equipment, installation is in progress of closed-circuit, high-resolution, digital color video monitoring cameras that are vandal resistant at all residence hall exterior entrances. These will give U-M one of the most sophisticated video monitoring systems for residence halls in the country. Beginning Feb. 2003, cameras at three residence hallsEast, South and West Quadrangleswill be completely operational. Camera installation in the remainder of residence halls is scheduled for the 2003 winter term.

"The installation of the electronic locks and video monitoring systems provides us with excellent new tools that we expect will result in a decline in the incidence of crime in residence halls," says Ian Steinman, director of Housing Security and associate director of the Department of Public Safety. "In addition, we continue our significant ongoing efforts to increase resident awareness of the steps they can take to enhance their own security and the security of others around them."

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