Mowrer (1999) described the use of fire detection and alarm systems used in
residence halls. While fire detection and alarm systems provide some protection in terms
of alerting occupants that a fire exists, there is no assurance the occupants will take the
proper action. The reasons for this are varied including high levels of false alarms,
apathy, high incidence of intoxication, among others.
Moore (2000) described the minimum requirements of NFPA 101, the Life Safety
Code. The dormitories at CSUF meet the minimum requirements of NFPA 101 by
maintaining a manual pull station alarm system and smoke detectors. However, these
detection systems only provide minimal protection. Too often, only minimal fire
protection requirements are considered at the time of construction in most buildings.
Such practices should be questioned in buildings where at-risk young adults are housed.
A strong case is made for the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in
dormitories. Smoke or fire alarms were present in 93 percent of all dormitory fires in
1997. Sprinkler systems were present in 28 percent of these fires. On average, direct
property damage per fire was 36 percent lower when an automatic sprinkler system was
present (NFPA, 2001). According to Grant (1999) no more than two people have been
killed in any building fire where a sprinkler system had been installed.
The installation of automatic sprinklers has not been accomplished due to budget
restrictions according to the assistant housing director. It appears such a change may
only occur when a catastrophic event such as the fire at Seton Hall University occurs
close to home.
Mongeau (1999) described advanced fire protection features at West Campus