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Newsletter > November 2001 > "TIME FOR A SAFETY CHECK"
TIME FOR A SAFETY CHECK
Robert E. Manley, Manley & Burke
The nearly unbelievable events of September 11, 200 l at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon remind us of many things that we should have known, but have taken for granted.
One of those lessons is the need to regularly check on the local security of our fraternity houses.
There have been a few horrific experiences like the time when the “towny” who was ejected from a fraternity party returned in the wee hours of the morning and set the house on fire at Indiana University or when homicidal Ted Bundy invaded a sorority house at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Generally, we think of our fraternity houses as safe havens, but every fraternity house should be checked for safety every year. What should be examined?
- Do the smoke detectors work and are there enough of them to provide an early warning so that people will evacuate in case of fire?
- Are the exit ways clear and unobstructed so in case an emergency evacuation is necessary, it can take place without impediments to the flow of people?
- Are the doors kept locked with a key system that provides adequate key control? Adequate key control means keeping keys out of hands of non-chapter members or perhaps using an electronic keypad where the combination is changed
- Has the fraternity house been inspected for safety hazards with regard to wiring, plumbing, gas lines and so forth? Many insurers will do this at little or no cost Private contractors will do In some cities, the fire department makes a regular inspection.
- Do the chapter programs include one or more sessions on personal safety and self defense
- Does the chapter regularly follow state law with regard to the use of alcoholic beverages?
- Does the chapter regularly follow the fraternity’s national guidelines on the use of alcohol at social events?
- Have the chapter officers developed a working relationship with the campus security personnel?
- Have the chapter officers developed a good neighborly relationship with occupants of residential properties close to the chapter house?
- If there have been reports of car break-ins, thefts or other criminal activity in the vicinity of the chapter house, has the chapter developed a coordinated neighborhood watch program? Local police often will help the chapter develop such a program.
- Do the chapter standard operating procedures call for a review of the physical and environmental safety of the chapter house each year?
- Is the interior and exterior lighting conducive to safety?