Safety & Licensing
Safety and licensing are critical to the health and legal operations of every house. The AILG provides several services to the FSILG community including document management, inspection coordination, inspection preparation and assistance, safety education, and a interface with the municipalities in which the FSILGs are located, as needed.
The required Safety, Licensing, and Inspection (SLI) program helps houses maintain compliance with local rules and regulations, including timely inspections by the town (Boston, Cambridge, or Brookline) where they are located. AILG helps houses track required inspection documents through the SLI, and makes available the services of a Building Safety Facilitator (BSF). Houses may opt to hire the AILG BSF to help them prepare for local inspections.
Any concerns about safety or licensing at any MIT FSILG can be discussed with the individual house, the BSF, the MIT FSILG Office, or the AILG Facilities Committee.
More information about the SLI document management system and BSF programs is provided below.
AILG Safety, Licensing, and Inspection Program
The Safety, Licensing, and Inspection (SLI) program was developed and endorsed by the Association of Independent Living Groups (AILG) to improve the inspectional and licensing process within the MIT FSILG community. It clarifies roles, reinforces the responsibility of our members, provides practical educational opportunities, improves safety, increases harmony with municipal authorities, and improves the use of the resources of the MIT community.
The charter of the SLI program is to assist members in meeting their obligations in the areas of safety, licensing, and inspection of their buildings, and to provide improved means of communicating the status of these issues between members, the AILG, MIT, and the municipal authorities. The most important aspect of that communication is a reliable database of inspection and licensing status which provides interested parties the information they need, especially in an emergency. The SLI program provides tools, resources, and information; however, it does not assume responsibility for the safety or license compliance of member houses. Member houses retain full responsibility for their own safety; the SLI Program respects the independence and privacy of houses as they successfully manage their own affairs.
The SLI program is under the auspices of the AILG Facilities Committee.
Document Management and Inspection Coordination
The AILG has contracted the FSILG Cooperative (FCI) to administer the program and perform various document registration, process management, and inspection coordination activities utilizing its experience communicating and working with individual FSILGs, and its data management and development capacity. Funding is provided by a mix of MIT contributions and AILG membership assessments. The service will be provided for all FSILGs participating in the SLI program whether they are Cooperative members or not. The activities break down into several categories:
- Document Registration
Representatives from participating SLI FSILGs submit digital copies (or paper copies to be digitally scanned) of all key documents, which are recorded in an on-line database created and maintained by FCI. Documents include both certificates obtained from municipal agencies and from private vendors, and more specifically include egress inspection certificates, dormitory and lodging house licenses, fire escape inspection certificates, sprinkler test reports, etc.
- Process management
The FCI tracks the status and expiration of all documents and maintains a process of notices and reminders that involves a combination of email and phone contacts as appropriate. If a house has difficulty complying, an escalation process will come into play, involving AILG, MIT, and student government officers, to motivate and foster compliance.
- Inspection Coordination
For municipal inspections and some vendor inspections with concurrent expiration dates, FCI maintains an online scheduling system that accommodates the desire of officials and vendors to visit multiple houses in a few days and the desire of students and alumni/ae to schedule visits when most convenient. The FCI coordinates the scheduling of municipal inspections for Boston and Cambridge houses, and for houses utilizing the BSF, handles the scheduling of BSF pre-inspection walkthroughs.
- Contact List
An up-to-date list of reliable contacts is maintained for each FSILG, consisting of at least two undergraduate residents and two house corporation members. This list is maintained both by soliciting updates from the houses themselves, and by correlating contact lists with other entities which also try to maintain contact lists, such as the FSILG office.
- Issue Tracking
When an individual FSILG is out of compliance with some aspect of the program, or when it has any other significant, outstanding, visible issue affecting its safety or licensing, the system will track these issues: their presence, their prerequisites or gating items, their duration, and their expected resolution date.
See the SLI users guide for details.
Building Safety Facilitator
The AILG contracts with an individual or firm (the BSF) with skills in the related safety and building management areas to be the “boots on the ground” presence to identify and assist houses in correcting conditions that could jeopardize safety and successful inspections, and to serve as a liaison with the municipal authorities.
Using the BSF is optional if a house provides someone with equivalent skills. This BSF-Alternate must be approved by the AILG Facilities Committee and must perform the same activities and submit the same reports that the BSF would provide if the house was utilizing that option. The BSF’s activities include:
- Inspection Presence
The BSF is present at municipal inspections. S/he interprets inspector requests, documents the visit and prepares a confidential report for the residents and house corporations. The BSF’s presence is intended to augment, and not replace, participation by house-affiliated personnel.
- Pre-Inspection Preparation
Approximately one month prior to every required municipal inspection, the BSF will conduct a pre-inspection tour to gauge the readiness of the facility. S/he documents the visit and prepares a confidential report for the residents and house corporations. The BSF then follows up with house officers – which may well involve a second visit – to help ensure compliance prior to the official inspection.
- Routine Visits
Additional routine visits are oriented to monitoring corrective actions and maintaining safe conditions. S/he prepares a confidential report for the residents and house corporation at each visit. The BSF establishes an ongoing relationship with residents and serves an educational and advisory function.
Specific items for attention include, but are not limited to, exit signage, emergency lighting, sprinkler system condition, egress path and egress availability, rodents, lighting, electrical hazards, housekeeping, fire extinguishers, etc.
Tom Stohlman is the AILG Building Safety Facilitator. His contact information is:
EMAIL: bsf (at) mit (dot) edu
84 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
MAIL: P.O. Box 397068
Cambridge, MA 02139
In addition to the SLI document management service and BSF, FSILGs may find the MIT EHS Office and some AILG committees can help with safety and licensing issues.
MIT EHS Office
MIT EHS Office provides both a source for relevant expertise and an MIT institutional presence. Its activities are targeted to effectively use this resource.
- Municipal Interface
Although some municipal authorities (e.g., Boston ISD), relate individually with each house, others desire a single point-of-contact or an official MIT involvement.
Safety is not achieved by inspections alone. Ongoing education serves to extend the safe period beyond a few days a year as well as simplifying the task of preparation for formal inspections. In addition to the effort of house corporations and the BSF, a formal program of group education directed to both students and house corporation officers may be the best use of this resource. This includes but is not limited to participation in HM101.
- Support to the BSF in terms of technical expertise
The MIT FSILG Dean’s Office provides and supports student communication and education and applies sanctions as required. It maintains its own contact lists, but efforts are made to synchronize its list and the SLI program’s contact list.
The AILG Facilities Committee will regularly review the list of open issues at its monthly meeting, with the goal of getting them responsibly addressed and closed in a timely manner. Persistent unresolved issues will be dealt with.
The AILG Accreditation Committee is informed of the status of licenses and approvals, and of significant lapses in compliance.
As mentioned, the house corporations and resident students have the overall responsibility for safety, licensing and inspection aspects of their house.