Housing Risk Management

A SAFE HOUSE IS OUR GOAL - Housing Inspection Form

The responsibility of maintaining a safe and positive learning environment for chapter members is a concern. Our goal in the area of chapter housing must be to make sure that all who live in our chapter houses are protected to the best of our ability. The responsibility of meeting our housing goals rests with chapter members working in close cooperation with local property-holding alumnae/alumni corporations. The guidelines that we establish to meet this goal become a risk management program.


Two major areas of concern have been shown to cause liability and property loss problems for fraternities: fire safety and house maintenance. In both areas, a responsible risk management program can lessen the probability of causing damage to the chapter house.


Managing our risk requires all alumnae/alumni and chapter members to set high standards for the safety of our houses. In no area of house operations is this more important than in the area of fire safety.  Basic fire safety suggestions for a fire safety risk management program follow:

  1. ESTABLISH A "NO SMOKING" POLICY. Ban smoking in bed and establish other non-smoking areas. Provide plenty of ashtrays in designated smoking areas.
  2. DO NOT OVERLOAD CIRCUITS. Prohibit the use of extension cords or multi-outlet devices. Use power strips, preferably with surge protectors in their place when necessary. Do not permit members to install their own custom wiring.
  3. INSTALL ALARM SYSTEMS. Consult with local fire officials to determine the number and preferred location of smoke and heat detectors in sleeping rooms and common areas. All smoke and heat detectors should be hard wired instead of battery operated. Also consider installing an alarm system wired to a central location.
  4. PROVIDE AND MAINTAIN FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. Extinguishers should be well-marked and readily available throughout the house. Establish penalties for tampering with a fire extinguisher. Make sure extinguishers are checked and serviced regularly.
  5. HOLD REGULAR FIRE DRILLS. Plan, design, and post your emergency evacuation plan inside each bedroom door. Quarterly fire drills are recommended, with evacuation leaders and a post-evacuation roll call procedure established. Have emergency telephone numbers posted at all house phones.
  6. KEEP THE CHAPTER HOUSE CLEAN. Avoid keeping flammable materials in the house. Extra clutter, such as paper, boxes, and clothing, provide fuel for a fire. Trash removal is especially important.
  7. COMPLY WITH FIRE CODES AND REGULATIONS. Local fire department officials and insurance investigators will be willing to provide regular inspections and answer your questions, usually at no cost.
  8. INSTALL A SPRINKLER SYSTEM. While this can be a great expense, it will save lives in the event of a fire.
  9. DO NOT ALLOW THE USE OF CANDLES IN THE HOUSE OR IN INDIVIDUAL ROOMS EXCEPT UNDER CONTROLLED CIRCUMSTANCES, I.E., INITIATION. The number of fires caused by candles in residence hall rooms and chapter houses has steadily increased. Cases involve burning candles igniting curtains or other flammable materials and candles being allowed to burn while the occupant(s) of the room are elsewhere.

Reference (FIPG Manual, July 2008)


A successful risk management program requires a cooperative effort of both alumnae/alumni and chapter members to lessen the likelihood of accidents and hazards that potentially exist in the chapter house. Listed below are some basic suggestions that any chapter and corporation can follow to develop their own local house maintenance risk management policy:

  1. SCHEDULE REGULAR INSPECTIONS. Thoroughly inspect the chapter house every three months, with the chapter president, house manager, and a specified alumnae/alumni corporation board member doing the inspection together and completing a written checklist.
  2. PAY ATTENTION TO TRAFFIC AREAS. Particular maintenance attention should be directed toward doorways, railings, stairways, carpet, floors, and windows. Outside, regular inspection of fire escapes should be scheduled to check their operation and to make sure they are clear of obstacles.
  3. DEVELOP A WRITTEN MAINTENANCE PROGRAM. Have a written schedule to replace or change furnace filters, light bulbs, exit lights, etc., when needed.
  4. KEEP HALLS AND STAIRWAYS CLEARED. All halls, stairways and exits should be kept clear and well-lighted at all times.
  5. SERVICE HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT. Schedule annual service and inspection of these and other major mechanical systems.
  6. SERVICE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT. Schedule regular cleaning, service, and inspections of all kitchen equipment, paying particular attention to stoves, deep fryers, exhaust hood filters, and fire extinguishing systems.
  7. RESTRICT ACCESS TO DANGEROUS AREAS. As appropriate, limit or prohibit access to certain areas of the house such as roofs, furnace rooms, fuse boxes, etc.

Reference (FIPG Manual, July 2008)


Chapter leaders must become more aware of the need to limit access to the chapter house. Unfortunately, cases of arson and vandalism are not unknown to fraternities. Some house security suggestions are listed below.

  1. A LOCKED HOUSE IS A SAFER HOUSE. The minor inconvenience of maintaining a locked house is justified by the safety benefits to the members and physical structure. Give all members a key.
  2. INSTALL DEADBOLTS ON ALL DOORS AND LOCK WINDOWS. Consider installing a timer that automatically sets deadbolts from Midnight to 7:00 a.m. Lock all ground access windows during the same hours.
  3. LET PEOPLE KNOCK. No one enters your family home without knocking. Keep it that way at your chapter house. The only exception should be during social events with door monitors greeting guests.
  4. DESIGNATE "KEY ALUMNAE/ALUMNI". Give keys to alumnae/alumni, such as your advisor and corporation officers, who require access to the house.
  5. HAVE "KEY ALUMNAE/ALUMNI" CHECK HOUSE DURING BREAKS. Whenever the house closes for holidays, term breaks, etc., establish a schedule of "Key Alumnae/Alumni" who will regularly check house security and make sure all mechanical systems function.
  6. INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING. Floodlights in front and security lights in back are the best way to deter chapter house vandalism and arson.
  7. GREET UNESCORTED STRANGERS. Don't let strangers roam the house. Confront them, student or not, and ask if you can help them.

Reference (FIPG Manual, July 2008)