Building Construction, Fireground Safety, Structural Firefighting

Responding to Fires in Vacant Buildings: Proceed with Caution

Issue 4 and Volume 172.

By Daniel P. Sheridan In 1986, the South Bronx was still reeling from the firestorm that tore through the borough in the 1960s and 1970s. The area resembled many of the bombed-out cities in Europe after World War II. We were still routinely going to fires in these vacant buildings (photos 1 and 2). Young firefighters like me saw these calls as opportunities to learn the job better. (1) Two vacant adjacent row-frame houses/buildings. The structure on the right has HUD windows and door and window guard systems (DAWGS). (Photos by author.) (2) The door system and vacant building marking. On both buildings, the marking of “X” inside a box with the letters “RO” means roof open, no entry, exterior operations only, marked by Ladder 29. For a building in bad disrepair, we would search depending on the fire condition. If there is heavy fire, we would wait until it…

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