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Saint John Fire Department uses Fire Marshal Orders to deal with vacant and dilapidated buildings

29-Mar-2011

A vacant building in Saint John was demolished and another is in the process of being demolished, as a result of a Fire Marshal’s Orders issued by the Saint John Fire Department.

Using Fire Marshal’s Orders to incite action on the part of vacant building owners is receiving higher urgency in Saint John. Common Council asked the Fire Department to help with the City’s stock of vacant and dilapidated buildings.

The Saint John Fire Department has started a program of weekly inspections of vacant buildings. With approximately 120 on the list, 25 are of serious safety concern to the Fire Department.

“The research shows that unoccupied buildings pose an increased danger to the public safety and to private property, and are twice as likely to cause injury or death to fire fighters during a response,” explains District Chief Gerald Green. “We keep an eye on access points to the buildings and for any change with regard to hazards developing at the sites.”

The National Fire Protection Association reports that six percent of reported structure fires were in vacant buildings, while 13 percent of reported injuries to fire fighters occurred during responses to vacant buildings. The same report shows that flame damage is much more likely to extend beyond the structure in a vacant building, in 9 percent of fires in secured vacant buildings and in 12 percent of unsecured vacant buildings. Flame damage extended beyond the original structure in only 3 per cent of structure fires overall.

The weekly inspections are also good for relationships with the neighbors, who are often concerned about the vacant buildings in their neighborhood.

If you are concerned about a building in your neighborhood, please report it to saintjohn.ca or call 658-2910.