ICAC Distributes Tool to help Firefighters

A new tool to help save firefighters lives by reducing arson in vacant buildings was distributed by the Insurance Committee for Arson Control at a dinner to honor fire service personnel recently in Washington, D.C. attended by President Bush. The new tool—The Abandoned Building Project Tool Box—a CD-Rom— was created by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI).

Gregg Dykstra, ICAC executive director, commented that the CD-Rom is an important move in limiting the threat to lives and property created through vacant buildings.

The CD-Rom project grew out of a tragedy, as on Dec. 3, 1999, six Worcester, Mass., firefighters died after becoming lost in an abandoned six-floor warehouse building. The new tool is designed for municipal administrators and public safety officials and contains a wealth of background information and fully prepared electronic presentations, including:

* Recommendations to systematically assess the numbers and locations of abandoned buildings
* Prioritizing buildings by the level of risk and using visual markers to alert firefighters to potential dangers
* Instructions on securing buildings to make reentry difficult
* Abandoned building inspection & evaluation forms

Successful pilot programs in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Maine have taken place, and the program has also attracted strong support from the fire services, insurance industry and local government.