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Greek houses struggling to make mandated 2013 sprinkler deadline

Fifteen fraternity and sorority houses on campus are required by state law to have fire sprinklers installed by Jan. 1, 2013, although several houses still have yet to figure it out.

An Illinois law was passed in 2005 that requires all dormitories and university housing must install fire sprinklers by 2013. Because Bradley owns the land of 15 greek houses on campus, this act applies to them as well.

“We talked to the office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall and they said anything on Bradley’s land that houses students must comply to this bill,” said Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Jesse Koch. “The bill was passed in 2005, which gave eight years to complete it and that is not unreasonable but many chapters pushed it to the back burner.”

Koch said because Bradley does not own the majority of individual greek houses themselves, they are not responsible for funding and installing fire sprinklers. Instead, chapters are responsible for making sure their house is up to code by 2013.

“A lot of presidents have come to me with concerns,” Koch said. “Some chapters have been fundraising for it and some of our chapters are not sure where that money will come from.”

President of Pi Kappa Tau Mike Zeniecki said up until recently, he was unaware that finding funding for a sprinkler system would be a task on his list.

“I honestly feel I am left in the dark,” he said. “I have never dealt with anything this big.”

Mitch Slack, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said his chapter is also currently trying to figure out a plan to fund and install fire sprinklers by 2013.

“AePi doesn’t have fire suppression, and that is pretty expensive,” he said. “The money has to come from somewhere and it can be either pushed off on students themselves or on our parent organization. In reality those expenses will be pushed off onto the students. We are hoping that our national organization will help out but I don’t know what will happen next year.”

Koch said the university has agreed to help, by organizing competitive bidding estimates. By doing so, the university could help chapters anywhere between five thousand to $10,000.

Zeniecki said they are working with Koch and the president of the fraternity’s Board of Governors to develop a plan and will to receive competitive estimates.

“Hopefully we will be able to use some money from the Board of Governors’ savings,” he said. “If not we might just have to take out a loan and raise dues.”

If houses on campus are unable to meet the Jan. 1, 2013 requirement, Koch said there may be major repercussions.

“To my understanding, if the Fire Marshall shows up on Jan. 1, 2013 and a house does not have fire sprinklers the house will be shut down, and they will no longer be permitted to live there,” he said. “The chapter will be unable to even use the facility for events. There is no way to work around it.”