Sprinkler system installations are drawing to a close as UNC fraternities and sororities aim for an August deadline.
The fall deadline was set in November 1996 as a result of a town ordinance, a measure intending to increase fire safety after a Phi Gamma Delta house fire in May 1996 that killed five students.
The ordinance requires that all fraternities and sororities install automatic sprinkler systems within five years. By August, all University fraternity and sorority houses must have sprinkler systems or their members will not be permitted to occupy the buildings.
"We're saying that no one can occupy the houses until they meet the deadline," he said.
Updated systems require new water lines and cost an average of $50,000. Since the ordinance was established, many greek houses have been working to raise money to foot the added expense of a new sprinkler system.
"I think it's an expense (the fraternities and sororities) all budget for," said Jay Anhorn, director of the Office of Greek Affairs.
Regardless of the ordinance's expense, UNC fraternities and sororities seem to be on schedule. Kappa Kappa Gamma President Carrie Jackson says that the house has been well ahead of the fall deadline.
"We were the first house to have (a sprinkler system) installed," she said. "We've had ours for years."
She said the sorority also plans to increase the safety of their current system by linking it with an alarm system that directly contacts the Chapel Hill Fire Department.
Along with the forthcoming sprinkler system installations, the Office of Greek Affairs further encourages fire safety by requiring each group to have a separate fire marshal to conduct regular safety inspections.
"We have a fire marshal, fire drills, inspections and routed maps throughout the house," Jackson said.
According to the 1996 ordinance, the only exceptions to the fall deadline are those houses that are undergoing renovations and will not be completed by that time.
Six of the 23 Interfraternity Council members' houses are now under renovations and will be vacated until construction is complete.
Delta Upsilon president Jason Minton said that, though his fraternity is one of those under construction, fire-safety regulations will be met in the completed building.
"As far as Delta Upsilon goes, our house is being renovated, so we won't be living here next year," Minton said. "However, we are planning to be done with construction in one calendar year."
Minton said the new Delta Upsilon house will have a complete sprinkler system and will be in compliance with orders.
As the sprinkler system deadline approaches for UNC fraternities and sororities, progress looks promising to Greek officials.
"All of the groups will meet the deadline," Anhorn said. "No one's having any problems."
Ashley Davidson can be reached
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