Fighting Fires in Vacant Structures

I recently came across a forum post on Firefighter Nation by Christopher J. Naum. The post titled “Firefighter Safety at Vacant Structures” got me thinking. Does your department or more importantly you assume that vacant structures are unoccupied?

Don’t get me wrong, his information is great and I think everyone should read it. My mind wandered when I was finished reading it. I am not trying to take away from what he said but more so effect a semi off topic discussion.

I know that my department assumes that vacant structures could be occupied and therefore a search is competed asap. That being said, there is certain risk assessment done in the very beginning of the incident. Most of the things that Christopher talks about are taken into consideration.

My question to you is do you assume that vacant structures are unoccupied? It seems as though both the “vacant” and “unoccupied” terms are used hand in hand. Vacant should be used for houses that are boarded up or otherwise seem to be left by their main inhabitants. Unoccupied should be used for houses that no one is in. The only true way to make that determination is by doing a search. Many vacant houses are occupied by transients.

Whatever you do, check out his article.

By the way, you can find The Fire Critic on Firefighter Nation here. Be sure to hit us up for a friend request too!