A Gorham fraternity house escaped court-ordered shutdown last week because its residents complied with the fire department’s requirements to resolve several violations, including a third-party monitoring system for the alarm.

Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre said an Aug. 7 inspection revealed many violations in Delta Chi’s house on 23 Preble St., the most dangerous being a lack of alarm system monitoring.

Lefebvre said his biggest concern was alcohol consumption by college students. “We know that there are parties on a regular basis at the fraternities, at different housing where college students are,” he said. “I mean, that’s part of college life.

“When those parties are going on,” he continued, “there’s usually people smoking, and when the parties get done and people go to bed and they’re under the influence, their reaction time is not what it normally is. There are times when the alarm system would go off that those people might not even hear it and react.”

Lefebvre said this was why a monitoring system was a high priority. “At least we have a half-decent chance of making a rescue. That’s why we’ve taken this matter so seriously.”

The National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) Web site (www.nfpa.org) offers several fire-safety tips for college students, including “After a party, check furniture and cushions for smoldering butts.”

Several minor violations were also listed against Delta Chi (See sidebar). Fire Inspector Russell Bearor said in an e-mail that the department was only allowed in common areas due to a lack of duplicate keys.

There are four fraternities and three sororities in Gorham, none of which are owned or operated by USM. Judie O’Mallie of the university’s public affairs office said that USM supports the fire department’s decision.

Martin Micisso, a member of the house’s alumn Board of Trustees, said the fraternity wanted “due process” and requested to see the statute requiring them to have a third-part monitoring system, but Gorham FD balked. The department later complied with their request.

“Once they got that to me,” said Micisso, “we contacted our attorney and (we decided) we’re going to comply.”

Micisso set up an account with Simplex, a monitoring service in Westbrook. The total cost to Delta Chi for the service is $2,000 per year. Micisso said two additional telephone lines had to be installed in the house to accommodate the alarm monitoring.

Connecting the monitoring system also helped Delta Chi avoid a court order to shutdown. A hearing had been scheduled for last Friday.

Micisso said the Delta Chi house “has been operating for 10 years” without a monitoring service.

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