Fire officials implement new system for vacant and abandoned buildings

Posted at: 12/12/2012 5:05 PM
Updated at: 12/12/2012 6:03 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

There are thousands of abandoned buildings throughout the city and officials say they could be a big problem for first responders.  But that issue is expected to change.

Now that the Rochester fire department is implementing a new system. Large placards will now help first responders identify dangerous structures before they enter. It's something local firefighter unions fought for-for quite some time.  

The new system began early Wednesday morning. Fire officials spent hours putting up these placards-warning everyone to stay off the property.

Even though they were put up to help first responders, the abandoned buildings are a nuisance to local residents who are forced to look at it everyday. They say they hope this is the first step to ultimately get rid of what they are calling "a black eye" to the neighborhood.

Out of the 2500-abandoned buildings throughout Rochester,
Fire officials say a third pose a serious threat especially for first responders.

Edward Kuppinger, Rochester Fire Department said, “There are unsafe structures in this building. There are holes in the floor, it's just unsafe to be inside.”

In an effort to keep firefighters safe, officials have developed a new system that will let them know they can not enter the building-right away. They are considered potential life savers. Large placards will now be placed on three sides of abandoned buildings all over the city, letting everyone know danger lies ahead.

Kuppinger said, “This is just another tool in the kit that lets firefighters know that there's a problem with these buildings and to be a little more careful.”

Even though this was created to help first responders, local residents want to see more. Willie Manor has been living on Bay Street for more than 30 years. He says he's seen a lot of change throughout that time, especially when it comes to the homes. He calls it an eye sore.

Manor said, “Nobody has lived in that house for the last six years. It's empty and no one has done anything about it.”

Manor says the one right across the street bothers him the most. He claims he's complained to the city several times.

Manor said, “It messes up the neighborhood. We've got some nice houses around here and look across the street there. It's a mess.”

But now that these placards have popped up, he says he now has some hope. But until the buildings come down, he'll remain skeptical.

Manor said, “I just wish they could have done it earlier. Then maybe we could have something in this neighborhood.”

The Rochester Fire Department or building department personnel plan to visit every building on a regular basis to determine the different levels of damage to the home. Officials say the placards are an effective tool, but they have also placed these buildings in a computer system so that if a call is placed to 911 about any incident, firefighters know right away what they can expect.