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This year’s National Arson Awareness Week theme is “Reducing Arson at Vacant and Abandoned Buildings.”
This year’s materials for abandoned and vacant buildings will:
Unsecured and exposed to the elements, abandoned and vacant structures can be extremely treacherous to firefighters, as they lack structural integrity and may contain other hazards. Urban mining removes pipes and wiring, resulting in additional pathways for the spread of smoke and fire.
The best method to keep firefighters safe is to aggressively identify, evaluate and secure vacant and abandoned buildings. In addition, jurisdictions should adopt a policy which limits interior fire attack to incidents where there is a confirmed life hazard.
Abandoned and vacant structures continue to be a nuisance in urban areas across America. Urban sprawl is transferring populations from cities to more rural areas, leaving a wake of vacant and eventually abandoned factories, offices and residential structures. Buildings and homes can become vacant or abandoned for a multitude of reasons, including destroyed in a disaster, foreclosure, failed business, or disinvestment by the owners. Unfortunately, these structures attract illicit activity, such as drug use, vandals and prostitution.
Urban blight results in a vicious circle, fueled by increased crime and reduced property values. With the recent housing crisis, a myriad of vacant homes are appearing in rural and once pristine communities previously immune to such delinquency. The homeless often turn vacant buildings into hotels, which Camden County (New Jersey) Police Officer Brandon Moreno refers to as “abandominiums.”
Learn about a new alternative to plywood for boarding up vacant buildings: clear board. This transparent covering allows law enforcement and first responders to look inside vacant buildings to identify illegal activity.
About 23,800 vacant residential building fire are reported each year and cause an estimated 75 deaths, 200 injuries and $785 million in property loss.— USFA
Intentional actions are the leading cause of residential and nonresidential vacant building fires.— USFA
About 6,400 vacant nonresidential building fire are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 50 injuries and $205 million in property loss. (USFA)
An average of 550 incendiary/arson fires are reported each year at properties that are abandoned, vacant-secured, vacant-unsecured, uninhabited, idle, and to be demolished. (BATS)
Vacant and abandoned building fires cause a disproportionate share of firefighter injuries. (NFPA)
The difference between vacant and abandoned buildings is primarily related to the availability of an owner.
Unoccupied buildings with an owner who is interested in the property and easily contacted are considered vacant. A vacant building usually has current taxes.
A property is considered abandoned if there is no owner or the landlord is absent. In addition, the building’s taxes are not paid, and the building is not legally occupied.
A meaningful community project that can improve a neighborhood involves cleaning up and securing abandoned and vacant homes, which are probable arson targets. Often times, local box stores will provide the materials at cost or donate them for this project, which will help revitalize the area.
Undertaking this project will help your community to protect buildings that are temporarily vacant, pending rehabilitation and use.
This reference guide provides instructions and a list of materials to assemble barriers for windows, doors and carriage bolts.Download Board Up Procedures PDF 852 KB