Pioneer advocated testing

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Friday, July 1, 2005

ARLINGTON, Va.--E. Harris Nober, a pioneer in residential smoke detector design, died of liver cancer on May 23, at the age of 77.
Nober's work included testing the effectiveness of audible smoke detectors for individuals with normal hearing and evaluating light-omitting smoke detectors for the hearing impaired. He experimented on the effects of audio and visual smoke detection devices on sleeping persons. His research would influence how smoke detectors were programmed to send alerts.
Nober was professor emeritus of communication disorders from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he began his tenure in 1969 and retired in 1998.
"He was very interested in the safety and well being of individuals with hearing disabilities," said Charlena Seymour, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who worked with Nober at the university. "Harris was a visionary, he saw the need to solve a problem way before others saw a problem existed."
In an article he co-authored with Arnold Well and Stanley Moss, professors in the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Department of Psychology, for the January/February 1990 Fire Journal, he advocated that smoke detectors with sound and light features provided adequate protection for both individuals with and without any hearing loss.
After serving in the Coast Guard, Nober earned a bachelor of arts degree in speech pathology and an master of arts degree in audiology from Brooklyn College. Then, went on to receive a doctorate in experimental psychology from Ohio State University.
Nober is survived by his wife, Linda, his son Roger, his daughter, Jennifer, a sister and five grandchildren.