WKU altering safety precautions for Smith Stadium

Kyle Williams

A smoke alarm mishap during WKU’s season-opening football game versus the Bowling Green State Falcons has prompted university officials, WKU athletics and the WKU Police Department to review the university’s safety precautions.

In the second quarter of WKU’s 59-31 win on Friday, Aug. 29, smoke alarms were triggered by steam deriving from a newly-designated food preparation area of Smith Stadium.

“Centerplate, our concessionaire, has actually added a lot to their menu this year, and because they’re offering more food than ever, and we also have Moonlite Bar-B-Q coming in, they’re preparing food in areas of the stadium that we hadn’t previously done so,” Athletic Director Todd Stewart said.

The referees were informed that the alarm wasn’t an emergency situation and were given the option to resume play. Play resumed, but fans filed out of Smith Stadium because the emergency announcement would not allow any other communication systems, including the press box microphone or the head referee’s microphone, to work properly.

“The system kicked in and the biggest problem for us was it locked out all the communication systems,” Stewart said. “So we literally could not make an announcement…we’re putting a more traditional detector in the cooking area than the smoke alarm that was in there. If it happens again, we will be able to make a very quick announcement.”

As part of the enhanced precautions, WKU will add additional functionality to the fire alarms so that all remaining communication systems can be used during the alarm. In addition, the university has changed the smoke alarms in the food preparation area to heat alarms as opposed to steam alarms.