Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 1994

CITY AIMS FOR FIRE SAFETY IN KU HOUSES

November 23, 1994

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Fire code infractions:

The Lawrence Fire Department identified 457 fire safety violations at 37 KU fraternities and sororities. That's down from 504 last year.

The most common offense was unapproved extension cords and adapters, with 176 violations. That's up from 123 last year.

Other infractions include

Tau Kappa Epsilon president George Wyatt said today that the fraternity relied on good ol' capitalism to improve compliance with city fire safety rules.

"We have a house manager who is responsible for making sure everything in the house is up to code. We pay him. There is incentive for him to do well," Wyatt said.

In the latest inspection of fraternities and sororities at Kansas University, firefighters found only five minor violations at the TKE house, 1911 Stewart. It was the house's best inspection in recent history.

Lawrence Fire Marshal Rich Barr said 457 violations were identified in 37 fraternity and sorority houses. That's down from 504 last year and 555 in 1992.

"The problem is probably not ever going to go away," Barr said. "The reason is that we have such a transient population in the houses. Students move in and out."

"For us, it points to the need to maintain education and enforcement, and to the need for making sure houses are provided with as much automatic protection as we can get in them."

Twenty-two fraternity houses accounted for 356 violations, while 15 sororities had 101 violations. The only Greek house without a violation: Alpha Chi Omega, 1500 Sigma Nu.

Barr said sororities tended to place a higher priority on fire prevention than fraternities.

"From my perspective, the reason sororities seem to be better is that the alumni corporation boards are much more active in the management of the houses. They set the tone for the house and they enforce rules," he said.

The biggest fire safety violator was Sigma Chi fraternity, 1439 Tenn, where there were 33 violations. Another fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon at 1301 West Campus, had 31 violations, including an inoperative fire alarm system.

"We take that very seriously," Barr said. "We want people to understand that alarm systems are in there for protection of tenants."

He said no alarm sounded Oct. 21 at the Beta Sigma Delta fraternity house on the Bloomfield University campus in Bloomfield, Pa. Five students died in that blaze.

At KU, the most common violation involved use of unauthorized extension cords and multi-plug adapters. That accounted for 176, or about one-third, of violations. Residents of fraternities and sororities are required to use a power strip instead of a conventional extension cord.

The fire department started an inspection program in 1988, one year after fire caused $300,000 damage to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, 1645 Tenn.

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