Since this past winter, Bangor, Maine officials have been marking vacant or otherwise unsafe structures with a red and white metal X in an effort to protect firefighters.
The move, reports the Bangor Daily News, comes on the heels of the spike in foreclosed and abandoned homes during the recession that began in 2008.
The X sign is placed after fire and code officials have toured a suspected hazardous structure and entered those potential risks into a database. When emergency responders are called to a structure with an X, they radio dispatch for details on the specific hazards.
“Abandoned buildings are always a concern. They are vacant for a reason,” Fire Chief Tom Higgins told the paper. “Structurally they are not safe and yet we need to respond to these buildings for different events.”
The city had 114 abandoned structures on its list in 2013; about 50 of those have been deemed hazardous or potentially hazardous.