Friday, June 10, 2011

No Vacancy


I was reading the May 2011 issue of GQ magazine.  A particular article of interest was entitled, Destroying Detroit.  The article describes that due to the failing Detroit economy thousands of homes have been abandoned and have become a danger.  They have become a danger to surrounding properties, due to their structural deterioration, and to the fact that these abandoned properties become home to squatters, and other uninvited "guests".

The author, Tim Hetherington, follows several demolitions crews as they systematically destroy abandoned properties.  These crews tell stories of their unique experiences.   Many of the stories they tell include tales of vagrants rushing out of the houses as the first grapple tears through the roof, or of druggies rushing in to retrieve their hidden "goods", they tell of bones and animals beign uncovered in the demolition process.

In these times of fire prevention understaffing and multiple job assignments/functions, it is important that we do not forget the vacant structures in our communities.  Due to the economy, many jurisdictions have been faced with a drastic reduction of commercial activity, resulting in a rise of vacant and abandoned properties.

However, we owe it to our communities to ensure that these vacant properties are properly abandoned.  Not only are we faced with the threat of an easy arson target, but also the added danger of unknown people in these properties when the time comes to destroy or re-inhabit these building.

NFPA 1:10.13 Vacant Buildings -

1:10.13.1 - Every person owning or having charge or control of any vacant building or premises shall remove all combustible storage, waste, refusse, and vegetation and shall lock, barricade, or otherwise secure all windows, doors, and other openings to prohibit entry by unauthorized persons.

1:10.13.2 - All fire protection systems shall be maintained in service in vacant buildings.

What are some unique situations, regarding vacant structures, have you been part of?  What other codes/issues/concerns might one face when dealing with abandoned buildings?