Baltimore firefighters to prevent injuries to vacant structures and deaths with signs

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BALTIMORE — On Wednesday, Baltimore City Firefighters launched a new initiative to prevent injuries or deaths in vacant homes deemed unsafe across the city.

They have started posting the signs outside homes in southwest Baltimore, where they hope to send a clear message.

Engine 14 firefighters went house-to-house along the 2200 block of Booth Street in southwest Baltimore, installing red reflective signs on the front and back of vacant structures on the block.

Structures like these are where LT. Kelsey Sadler, LT. Paul Butrim and firefighter Kenny Lacayo, three BCFD members, were killed in January when they responded to a fire at a vacant house on South Stricker Street.

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It is a goal for firefighters that is personal.

“They love it. They wouldn’t be anywhere else or would want to do anything else in honor of our fallen firefighters,” said Blair Adams, a BCFD public information officer.

“Well hopefully people who don’t need to be there won’t be going,” Robin Frisby shared.

She remembers a tragedy dating back to 2007 when Baltimore firefighter Rachel Wilson died in the line of duty during a training.

“You know that firefighters use certain houses for exercises. They are not all safe for cadets to be in these houses. You never know someone may be trapped in one of these houses. They could actually die,” she said.

Preventing injuries or more deaths in vacant homes is the sole purpose of the new signs posted throughout the city.

“Now with the reflective signs, you will be able to easily identify and tell if a vacant home is considered unsafe or not. And that’s before entry and we want to make sure we continue our efforts to protect the community,” said said Adams.

With more than 14,000 vacant structures in Baltimore, city officials have so far identified 700 properties considered unsafe.

That’s not to say that dozens or hundreds could be on this list.

“It’s an ongoing effort. It’s not something we will stop once we have what we suspect are unsafe vacancies. We’re constantly going to get information into our system from housing about vacant buildings,” Adams explained.

The panels are intended to work in conjunction with the city’s computer aids dispatch system.

“Once we are on the scene and see like everyone else if we are able to easily identify a vacant house and we see a red reflective sign on the house then we would automatically know that particular property is unsafe. for the entrance. And then we would fight the fire from the outside only,” Adams explained.

Over the next few weeks, firefighters will spend two hours each Wednesday installing the signs in an effort to mark the 700 structures deemed unsafe.

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