Fire Committee Reviews Rules

A new University committee of administrators is revising Harvard's fire safety program in hopes of alerting students to possible dangers, committee members said yesterday.

The group, formed earlier in the semester, was created as part of an effort to increase fire safety awareness in undergraduate houses and dorms and is composed of administrators, Harvard fire officials, maintenance directors and Quincy House Master Michael Shinagel. No undergraduates are on the committee.

The group will formulate a new set of safety recommendations and deliver them to students, said Assistant Dean for the House System Thomas A. Dingman '67, a member of the committee. Dingman said the committee's work would include all houses and dorms in the College but would not cover Peabody Terrace, which houses some undergraduates.

"We are [probably going to be] working with a new set of instructions," Dingman said, adding that the committee plans to create new rules for fireplaces and revise dormitory evacuation plans.

Dingman said that the committee would also put out a safety brochure for students in the fall but decided not to place the pamphlet in registration packets, since they said it is important that students discuss fire safety information with each other and with their advisers.

To improve safety in the highrise towers of some houses, signs will be placed in their elevators warning that they not be used during a fire, said Frank J. Moore, manager of support services at Harvard's facilities maintenance department.

Moore said efforts were also being made to ensure all dorm and house exits are clearly marked.

Calling the program, "a major review of fire policy," Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said part of the committee's activities would be "a major assessment of fire equipment to make sure that everything is working." He said the committee would also have signs placed in all suites outlining exit locations and evacuation procedures.

Several committee members visited the houses and dorms earlier this year to gather information on building structures and current fire policy, said Michael N. Lichten, a committee member and director of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' (FAS) Office of Project Management.

"We just feel we should [assure] ourselves of the fact that the kids do know [about fire safety]," said Moore, who added, "It's just an awareness program."

Moore said the committee is "a way to get the kids actively involved" in fire safety. Although there are no students on the committee, he said that the committee had met with students and that its findings would eventually "trickle down within the houses."

Capt. Lawrence P. Ferazani of the Cambridge fire department said his office has had few problems with Harvard, calling the University cooperative and responsive to the department's suggestions.

He said that in the last two years, the number of fire alarm calls to Harvard buildings has decreased 50 percent. And with new safety laws that require sprinkler systems, Ferazani said, "I think you'll have a 100 percent safety record."

But Mather House Master Jeffrey G. Williamson said he hoped the committee would increase interaction with fire officials in addition to meeting them at fire drills.

At a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of Masters, the group was addressed by "representatives from the University who have knowledge in [fire safety]," Williamson said. At the meeting, Williamson said that he himself was not familiar with fire safety procedure and that he has since spoken to other masters who are "also ignorant."

Lichten said he expects that all Harvard buildings will eventually be covered by some form of policy review.