Nieuw ontruimingsalarm in Huygensgebouw
Nieuw ontruimingsalarm in Huygensgebouw

New evacuation alarm in Huygens building

The Huygens building was recently equipped with a brand new Class A evacuation alarm. This new evacuation alarm system combines spoken word with the sound of sirens. During an evacuation alarm, loudspeakers distribute clear instructions and information. Through strategically placed speakers, the evacuation alarm can be heard clearly anywhere, in any room. An impressive update that, including preparation, took almost three years.

Heleen de Jong, in-house emergency worker (respiratory team), explains that this new system contributes to increased safety because not everyone immediately understands what is expected when the siren alarm goes off. Heleen experienced it herself in October last year during an evacuation drill in wing 2. "When the siren sounded in the Science Library, the students present looked around, wondered what was going on and waited for the reaction of others. Only when the Emergency Response Team (BHV) came in full force did they understand that it was an evacuation."  

With the new evacuation alarm, the sound of a siren is still heard, but this is interspersed with spoken word. It is told, in both Dutch and English, that there is an evacuation and that people should leave the building.

"This is a clear instruction, everyone knows what to do and it saves time. Time that can be vital in an emergency!" emphasises Heleen.

Large-scale adjustments and nightly testing

Nieuwe luidsprekers in de gang van het Huygensgebouw

The preparation started in spring 2021 and from summer 2022 onwards, fitters spent about a year and a half working on the large-scale renewal of the installation switchboards, cabling and loudspeakers. A major operation, every room larger than 2 m2 was modified.

In the main corridor, for instance, more than 50 white loudspeakers now hang and the call booths are also fitted with speakers. But not every room has speakers. In noisy areas such as server rooms or rooms with fans, or in areas where there should be no noise at all such as the fish lab in the basements, flashing lights are used instead of sound for an evacuation alarm.

Before commissioning, the new system was extensively tested. Of course, this could not be done during the day when there is teaching and people are at work. Project manager Stefan Gooiker (Campus & Facilities): "the sound is loud, it involves serious noise. We tested between 22.00 - 06.00, then we were able to test extensively without causing any nuisance. The single researcher who was present in the Huygens building at night came to inquire whether there really was an evacuation; so the test was successful."

Flexible, sustainable and future-proof

The new installation brings not only an upgrade in technology, but also improvement in sound tuning. The sound system is flexible and tuned to various rooms. Stefan explains why this is important: "if speakers are misplaced, there is a strange scattering of sound which makes the voice unintelligible. And that is of course not the intention during an evacuation". The new installation is flexible and future-proof. The existing loops provide space for additional speakers and the new cable grommets can easily be opened and closed again in a fire-safe manner. This makes future adaptations relatively easy and sustainable.

After extensive inspections, the new certificate for the evacuation alarm was issued in January 2024. The brand new modern system is now running on its own and the old installation will soon be removed.


Picture above: Heleen de Jong next to the new installation switchboard. 
Picture centre: new speaker in the main corridor.


Contact information

Organizational unit
Campus & Facilities