Safety & Security Issues
Chapter House Security. Chapter houses can fall victim to break-ins, burglaries and vandalism
during quarter/semester break. Frozen pipes and fire are also concerns. Remind the residents to practice
normal “vacation” preparations including:
• Take all valuables home.
• Lock all doors and windows.
• Leave exterior lights on (with timer if possible).
• Leave some interior lights on with a timer during the evening.
One of the Grand Trustees’ core charges is chapter house fire safety. While there are many relatively simple and inexpensive fire safety protocols that all house should have (like fire extinguishers, lighted EXIT signs, fire rated doors, etc.), the single best way to control a fire is a fire sprinkler system which is designed to automatically discharge water when the heat of a fire has been detected. So, if a fire breaks out in one area of the building, the system will put it out quickly before it spreads, limiting property damage, personal injury and loss of life.
Many chapter houses have sleeping “lofts” or “platforms” that were constructed by undergraduate residents. If not properly designed and installed, they present dangerous life safety issues.
Typical safety considerations include:
1. Distance to Ceiling. Lofts typically are constructed close to the ceiling. Fire code is typically 4 feet clearance to avoid a “smoke pocket” and to be visible and accessible to fire and rescue attempting to locate occupants.
The old saying that ignorance is bliss can unfortunately play out very badly for a house corporation depending on the circumstances. Like any landlord, the house corporation expects the tenants to treat the property respectfully and in compliance with the law and life safety practices. But fraternity houses are “dynamic” environments and common sense does not always reign supreme. Consider two scenarios:
The Board of Grand Trustees with assistance from the Risk Management Foundation is encouraging house corporations to have a full inspection of housing facilities. Although there are many types of fraternity houses within Sigma Chi, these inspections are primarily directed toward those chapters living a house owned by the house corporation, regardless of how the land is owned, and leased the chapter or individual members. In those instances, a house corporation has a duty and a desire to provide a safe and adequate housing facility.
Sigma Chi brothers aren’t grown on trees. They are grown in chapter houses and both the actives and houses need to be as safe as possible. The house corporation should partner with active chapter to create and maintain safe conditions. Here are some of the areas to monitor carefully:
Housekeeping. When trash accumulates and dirty clothes pile up, there is a higher likelihood that fire will find fuel to burn. Insist on and check for weekly clean up to address these concerns.
According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 150 fires will occur in Greek housing this year. Amid the increased efforts in fire safety education to identify the dangerous risk placed upon our members, we are reminded of the three fatalities occurring in a fraternity fire at the University of
Each year, brothers return to school with clothes and other personal items that may include candles and smoking material. Burnables like these carry substantial health risk to the user and other residents.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an estimated 18,000 home fires were started by candles in 2002, which included 130 fatalities and an estimated property loss of $333 million. 40% of home candle fires start in the bedroom and 18% of the fires occur when the candle was simply left unattended or controlled.