Posts Tagged Chicago to label dangerous buildings

Chicago labels dangerous buildings with red ‘X’ has a lengthy article explaining Chicago’s red ‘X’ program:

While walking around her Logan Square neighborhood Chicagoan Poppy Coleman noticed something peculiar about two rundown buildings: They bore metal signs emblazoned with a large red “X.”…  she wanted to know more …

Since 2012 nearly 2,000 of these red “X” signs have popped up around Chicago. It’s not hard to find people posting in online forums, wondering aloud whether the red “X” means a building’s condemned, vacant or for sale. This program, meant to save the lives of [firefighters] and others, has run out of money.

On Dec. 22, 2010, firefighters were searching for squatters inside a burning, long-vacant laundromat on the 1700 block of East 75th Street, in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. As firefighters continued their sweep of the building, a wall fell and then the roof collapsed, killing firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum. Nineteen others were injured.

“When I first became alderman, one of the first visits that I paid was to Fire Chief Mark Neilsen,” said 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored two city ordinances in response. The first ordinance, passed in 2011, required the department to catalogue buildings with bowstring truss construction, a variety that’s prone to collapse during fires.

Silverstein’s second ordinance sought to find and mark all of Chicago’s dangerous buildings. For that program they decided on rectangular metal signs displaying a big red “X”, a symbol used by fire departments in New York City and other some other cities. That iconography comes from a federal program for marking vacant structures.

Chicago doesn’t assign red “X” signs to just any vacant or abandoned building; a sign is a visual cue that a structure is structurally unsound and that firefighters should take precautions when responding to emergencies there.

Since Silverstein’s ordinance passed in June 2012, the Chicago Fire Department has put up 1,804 red “X” signs. That’s less than half of the more than 5,000 vacant properties registered in the city — itself a fraction of the estimated total of vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago — but CFD Spokesman Larry Langford says it’s a start.

“We picked 1,800 that we wanted to get marked right away,” he says. When the program started, Chicago’s Department of Buildings sent over a list of structurally unsound properties for CFD to add to as they saw fit. The list from the Department of Buildings included a few hundred properties deemed more than 35 percent deteriorated. The department has largely left it up to aldermen and their offices to publicize the signs’ purpose.

There is a process to rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, but the city requires owners to obtain special permission before performing work on red x structures. Two years after the program began, however, only one building has successfully been repaired and had its red “X” legally removed.

… this program that was meant to save lives has run out of money. The city received $675,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters grant program to fund the red “X” program. Most of that federal grant money went to two local contractors: AGAE Contractors and M-K Signs. Data obtained by WBEZ show the city spent all of that money over thirteen months starting in June of 2012, and hasn’t put up any new red “X” signs since July 2013.

thanks Dan

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Chicago proposes the Scarlet Letter

The Chicago City Council is proposing an ordinance to identify and brand dangerous buildings with a scarlet ‘X’. The Chicago Tribune reports that:

Firefighters, cops and paramedics arriving at dangerous, vacant buildings would be warned by emergency dispatchers and bright reflective signs under new city efforts to avoid another disaster like the December 2010 roof collapse that claimed the lives of two firefighters.

Earlier this year, the city began compiling a list of dangerous buildings for 911 dispatchers, who will warn first responders en route to those sites. And the City Council Zoning Committee on Monday endorsed a measure to put 2-foot by 2-foot reflective signs, each with a large red “X,” on those buildings.

The entire article can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

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