QFD marks unsafe vacant buildings with an "X"

Many buildings in and around downtown Quincy were built nearly 100 years ago.

Some have been maintained while others have fallen into disrepair.

But there's a new program that's designed to keep fire crews safe in the event of a fire at one of those old, vacant buildings.

That program is evident when people drive past the old Newcomb hotel at 4th and Maine.

They may see a placard with an X on it above the entrance on the 4th street side of the building.

That X is something that was placed there by the Quincy Fire Department and it's a new program Chief Joe Henning recently put into place.

"Under the current version of the International Fire Code the the City Of Quincy adopted, There's a provision in there for the placarding of buildings that are vacant that could cause potential harm to firefighters," Henning said.

Henning also said the idea is to protect fire crews during an extra alarm fire. The chief said when it's an old large vacant structure, sometimes the upkeep on the building hasn't been the best and when crews enter the building they can't worry about holes in the floor or other issues when their main focus is to put out the fire.

"We're not going to go out and blanket the city necessarily, we're marking the worst of the worst. On one hand some people argue that firefighters know which buildings those are. When you're a firefighter, it's two o'clock in the morning and you're rolling up and it's pouring down rain, you're thinking of 15 other things, it's nice to have that visual indicator hanging on the wall that says stop, take a minute, what your going to have before you make entry," Henning said.

Another aspect to the program is the placing of placards that have a slash on it. That means that firefighters can enter the building but under extreme caution. Henning says he wants to make sure his firefighters and his department are up to speed with safety and that no lives are put in unnecessary danger if there is no reason for it.

Henning also said the department isn't ready to mark every vacant building in the downtown area.

He said the department wants to work with property owners to fix issues a building may have before a placard is put on the exterior of the building.