Alert warns firefighters of risks associated with empty buildings

July 8, 2010

A NIOSH alert released July 7 outlines several risk management strategies for preventing firefighter deaths and injuries in fires at unoccupied structures.

According to the alert (.pdf file), abandoned or vacant structures pose unique risks because firefighters are likely to encounter unexpected and unsafe conditions, such as dilapidation, decay, damage from previous fires and vandals, and uncertain occupancy status.

Among NIOSH's recommendations to fire departments:

  • Develop and enforce risk management plans.
  • Inspect and preplan buildings within a department's jurisdiction.
  • Adopt and enforce a standard system of marking abandoned, derelict and vacant buildings.