Valentine’s Day is here, spring is on its way, and love and celebrations abound. It’s the perfect time of year for gift-giving, but there’s something to keep in mind. If you’re planning on giving your sweetheart their Valentine’s gift in the Johnson Center, by all means bring the flowers – but make sure you skip the helium balloons.
Balloons are not permitted in the Johnson Center
Why not? No, Student Centers staff aren’t buzzkills. Helium balloons have the potential to set off the JC fire alarm system.
Zachary Pope, Director of University Life Safety and Emergency Management for the Environmental Health and Safety Office, explains, “The Johnson Center has a ban on balloons because there are fire protection detectors that emit a ‘beam’ from one detector to another to create a network. Their purpose is to detect smoke by interrupting the beam.”
Pope said, “If a balloon were to be accidentally released and traveled up to the top of the atrium area and broke one of the beam detectors network, the building would have to be evacuated until we could get the smoke evacuation system reset.”
The smoke evacuation system is difficult to reset, due to the fact that it is placed on the roof of the Johnson Center. Keeping helium balloons out of the JC entirely is the best way to prevent you, and the hundreds of other people in the JC, from having to stop in the middle of your lunch to evacuate the building.
Other campus buildings, such as The Hub and SUB I, don’t have the same restrictions, so if you want to give someone balloons, it’s best to exchange gifts in one of those buildings.
Happy Valentine’s Day!