social events and ignoring fire alarms, contribute to the incidence of fatalities due to fires
in dormitories. Finally, due to the high rate of false alarms, delays in notifying the local
fire department often occur delaying emergency response.
Detection and Protection Systems
Mowrer (1999) produced the United States Fire Administration (USFA) fire
safety guide for campus housing administrators. The guide describes the three basic
types of detection and alarm systems available. These include single and multiple station
smoke alarms, zoned fire detection and alarm systems, and addressable fire detection and
alarm systems. According to Mowrer, zoned systems indicate the general area of alarm
activation, whereas newer, addressable systems pinpoint the specific location of an
operating detector. However, the guide cautions that the detection systems described
produce ten to 20 nuisance alarms for every actual alarm that is activated.
The guide argues that the best weapon for controlling a fire in its early stages,
before it becomes too hazardous, is the automatic sprinkler system. Typically, a single
sprinkler head is all that is required in each dormitory room for fire protection. More are
required in large common areas. However, most residential fires are suppressed by the
activation of one or two sprinklers. Less than ten percent of residential fires require the
operation of more than four sprinklers.
Weider and Smith (1999) developed a training manual on fire inspection and code
enforcement. The manual defines the various detection, alarm, and suppression systems
used in various occupancies. Systems including smoke detectors, manual pull stations,
standpipes, and automatic fire sprinklers are explained. This information would prove
helpful in the development of an in-service lesson plan for the CSUF staff.