System Sensor protects OSU dorm

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore.--If a fire were to occur here at Oregon State University, students would be guided to safety by a directional sound system. Although they may have never heard the sound before, tests done at Leeds University in Scotland show that humans instinctively know how to follow it: an ascending pitch guides people upstairs and a descending pitch directs people downstairs; as you approach the exit, the sound increases in intensity.
Steve Owens, fire prevention and protection specialist for university housing and dining, saw the technology, demonstrated by European company Europe Sound Alert, three years ago at a campus fire safety conference in Boulder, Colo. "I was so impressed with the presentation that I called and set up a demonstration of it here for the Corvallis Fire Department."
The system installed here is from System Sensor, which licensed the technology from Europe Sound Alert as ExitPoint.
Owens, Gus Villaret, associate director for university housing and dining, and fire officials attended the demonstration where he and the local fire marshal tried to find their way out of a smoky hallway with and without a directional sound system.
"It was very convincing, and we were all sold this was a good product," he said.
ExitPoint was installed here in a newly remodeled seven-story, 120,900-square-foot concrete student-housing building, which has one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Because the floor design is complicated, Villaret thought it would be particularly well suited to a directional sound system.
The remodeling began in April of 2005 and was completed this past April. Villaret said the university has a commitment to fire safety and has a partnership with the local fire department, where the department helps train staff and college students about life safety.