Officials Seek to Improve Fire Safety

A University official said yesterday he has asked the Planning Office to research possible ways to improve some freshman dormitories' fire escapes that may not conform to state codes.

Francis A. Lawton, assistant dean of the Faculty for facilities, said the fire escapes met state regulations when they were installed, but because state codes change frequently the structures might not meet current standards.

The current fire-escapes in the Yard are all still legal, however, because the codes do not apply to structures that already existed when the codes were adopted, Lawton said. He added, however, that the fire escapes remain a source of concern.

Dr. Benjamin G. Ferris, director of environmental health and safety for UHS, said yesterday his concern over the structure of some of the fire escapes has led him to hire a fire inspector engineer.

Ferris said that "strictly speaking" Hurlbut Hall's indoor wooden fire escape does not comply with Massachusetts code.


Robbie G. Mesheau, fire and safety inspector in the Department of Buildings and Grounds, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Henry C. Moses, dean of freshmen, said yesterday Mesheau and a group of four fire inspectors allayed his initial concerns over the alarm and detection system within the freshman dorms. But Moses said he remains concerned about fire escape systems.

"Internal wood fire-escapes bother me. External ones worry me too," Moses said.


"Stairways made of wood are going to burn up very fast, and if there were a fire in one of the dorms with an outside fire escape, you'd lose more people by falling through the fire escapes than you would from the fire," Kate M. Elliot '81, a resident of Greenough said yesterday.

Incidents in the past three years of students falling through Grays and Stoughton Halls' fire escapes combined with a general lack of student awareness about fire hazards, have led to recent efforts by the administration to improve fire safety controls, Moses said. He added those efforts include fire drills last Wednesday and Thursday nights.

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