Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Campus fires spur push for sprinkler law

Columbia Missouri is considering a law that would require fraternities and sororities to install sprinkler systems in their houses.
Dominic Passantino, a 19-year-old freshman from Leawood, Kan., died in a 1999 fire that engulfed his third-floor room in the Sigma Chi house on College Avenue. The house, which hadn’t been inspected since 1994, was not equipped with sprinklers.
According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, at least 87 people have died nationwide in campus-related fires since 2000. The Massachusetts-based not-for-profit believes that sprinklers might have saved the students. Last month, students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Nebraska Wesleyan University were killed after their fraternity houses - which also did not have sprinklers - caught fire.
Fraternities and sororities have argued the systems are expensive to install, but Sapp counters the sprinklers dramatically decrease insurance costs associated with fires. He estimates it costs $2 to $3 per square foot to install sprinklers in existing buildings.

"Yes, it is expensive," said Henson, who plans to speak to council members about the law next month, "but what is the cost of a child’s life?"

Matt Jenne, an adviser to Sigma Phi Epsilon at MU, said the fraternity house at 405 Kentucky Blvd. is in the middle of a renovation worth more than $1 million. The refurbished 1920s-era house will feature a sprinkler system when it reopens next year, he said.
That's your Housing Corporation dollars at work, folks. Campus fires spur push for sprinkler law

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