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11 January 2016

University of Sussex

Nestled into the rolling hills of the South Downs surrounded by the boundaries of the National Park, the Falmer Campus of the University of Sussex cuts an impressive figure. With 15,000 students a year, it is one of the top 20 universities in the UK.

Architect Sir Basil Spence drew inspiration from the surrounding countryside and many of the buildings on the campus have listed status. The campus has undergone much re-development over the last 20 years, including recent major refurbishments of the iconic Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts.

Fireco has recently completed an installation of the Deaf Message Service in the Academic and Social buildings across the Campus, allowing users to be notified via a text message on their mobile phone when a fire alarm is activated. Fireco was contacted by the University of Sussex, who were reviewing some life safety fire protection measures to support individual PEEPs (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) for people with disabilities, including how to notify the deaf or hearing impaired that a fire alarm has been activated. The University had been using an existing pager system for a number of years but as with most systems of this type, there were issues with handsets going missing and needing replacing.

It became clear to the University that the time had come to look at a new means of alarm notification for their hearing impaired students, staff and visitors. The University of Sussex were familiar with Fireco and were keen to see what they could offer.

The University of Sussex is well known for its innovation and forward thinking and they considered that DMS would fit in nicely with this ethos. The fact that DMS is significantly more cost effective than pagers with equipment and operational costs, allowing individuals to use their own mobile phones was considered an advantage. It’s also much easier to operate on a day to day basis with very little required from student services and estates teams. Operating a campus wide pager system was a very involved process.

As well as improving life safety for the hearing impaired, the University are looking at other ways the service can be used. Other students and staff members that may benefit from assisted alerts, security teams, fire alarm contractors, fire wardens and fire marshals can all benefit from receiving that little text message that can have big implications. With the large number of buildings the University has at the Falmer Campus, keeping track of alarm activations can be hard work. The University are happy that the right people can be notified instantly now we have DMS installed, even if they’re not on site.

Since the Equality Act of 2010 it is important for the University to be able to present themselves to the broadest range of students possible. The National Institute for Deaf people provides statistics about deafness, or some form of hearing loss currently affecting one in six people and projected to be one in five within 20 years.

Pete Davies, Senior Account Manager at Fireco, oversaw the installation; “We’re proud to be working in partnership with our local University and are glad to have provided what will be a vital service, not just for those with a hearing impairment, but also to make the jobs of those involved with estates management, fire safety and evacuation that little bit easier.”

The above content is a press release and does not necessarily represent the views of the FIA