Pi Kappa Alpha house first to include safety features

Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Epoxy coating covers the bathroom walls, ceilings and floors of the newly renovated Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, a clear strategy to ensure for easy cleanup.

"(The residents) literally could take a hose in here," said Terry Bruns, manager of the project.

But that’s not the only “frat-friendly” improvement.

The $2 million renovation began in summer 2008 and sought to incorporate the new safety measures first laid out by the City Council in January 2007.

Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike, is the first Greek house at MU to implement the new safety measures. The fraternity currently has 124 members, about 90 of whom will live in the house this fall.

The decision by the council to adopt the 2006 International Fire Code meant all MU fraternities and sororities would have to install sprinkler systems in their houses by Dec. 31, 2012.

However, MU's Greek system argued the deadline didn't provide enough time to raise the necessary funds, which was estimated to be $100,000 per house.

A Fire Sprinkler Task Force was then assembled, and convinced the council early this year to extend the deadline to March 16, 2016.

Regardless of the safety recommendations, the plan to renovate the Pike house had already been decided in 2006.

From there, Pike brothers raised about $800,000 with the help of alumni and other donors.

The decision to include the new safety measures made sense because of the amount of work already being done, said Randy Coil, president of Coil Construction Inc., which worked on the project.

Mark Timberlake, an alumnus of the fraternity, completed the engineering for the house. Of the renovation, he said, “(The house) probably hasn’t looked this good since it was built in 1929.”

The renovations include a new stair tower, stair lift, sprinkler system, vinyl flooring, ADA accessibility and LED lighting to increase energy efficiency.

Bruns walked through the house Wednesday morning to showcase the various upgrades.

“This house was essentially gutted,” he said.

Out of the $2 million cost of the project, about 5 percent went toward the new safety components of the house: installing a sprinkler system, new smoke alarms and flashing strobes, Coil said.

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