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IL law demands Greek house sprinklers

January 28, 2011


On Jan. 1, an Illinois law went in to effect requiring all fraternity and sorority houses to have fire sprinklers installed by the end of the decade, complementing a previous act which required all post-secondary residence halls to have sprinklers within them by 2013.

The law, the Greek Housing Fire Safety Act, HB 5664 of the 96th General Assembly, requires all fraternity and sorority houses built after Jan. 1, 2011 to have fire sprinklers installed. In addition, all houses built before the start of the year are to have sprinklers installed by Jan. 1, 2019.

Currently, none of Monmouth College’s fraternity or sorority houses have sprinklers installed. The fraternity complex, which houses the Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau fraternities and temporarily holds the Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity, will have sprinklers installed by 2013 to comply with the previous law, known as the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act. Likewise, the new Alpha Xi House was built with fire sprinklers in accordance with the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act.

Meanwhile, the stand-alone Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Theta, and Pi Beta Phi houses currently lack sprinklers, defying some of their national risk management policies.

“The Pi Phi house does not have sprinklers which technically goes against our rules,” said Michelle Nutting former Pi Beta Phi Housing Committee Chair, “but headquarters made an exception for our house so the Alpha chapter could have a house that girls live in.”

Should none of the houses be upgraded, Monmouth cannot legally allow students to live in these houses for the Greek Housing Fire Safety Acts states that, “it is unlawful to occupy the structure as a Greek housing structure.”

Though the law was proposed last February and signed by Governor Pat Quinn in July, Michelle Merritt, Assistant Dean of Students, and Daniel Reck, Assistant Director of Greek Life, Leadership and Involvement, both seemed unaware of the new law.

“It’s interesting,” said Reck, “because this doesn’t have the same definition of dormitory.”

Meanwhile, Merritt said she had not been informed of the law or any plans to retrofit existing houses, something she said she should have been told by Director of Facilities Management Earl Wilfong and the maintenance staff.

“There are no plans to sprinkle the other buildings that we are aware of,” said Merritt.

The school may have problems with this law because of issues with the City of Monmouth and the low water pressure near campus. Already the school has run in to problems with water pressure and sprinklers with the construction of the Alpha Xi Delta house.

News Editor

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