My wife and I were driving back to our house after a very excited trip to Lowes where I bought my first riding mower. More on that in a different blog post. Since we’ve only lived in the Capitol Region for about a month we’re still using Google Maps to find our away around. If you’ve ever used Google Maps for directions you know that sometimes it takes you on weird routes to get places. In this case, we went from the Halfmoon Lowes to Averill Park and took all back roads and surface streets. It was a very weird route to say the least.

So while we’re driving home we passed a few houses with these red and white X’s on them. They almost looked like something you’d see on an Amish Barn or something. We had no clue what they were. So when we got home I hit the all-powerful Google and found something very interesting.

According to the website www.firehouse.com these placards are warnings to firefighters and first responders that a vacant or abandoned building is unsafe for them to enter. Either it’s a structural issue, or maybe the building is just a shell and the floor or stairs are missing.

 A placard with an open square shall signify that the building had normal structural conditions at the date of the inspection.

A placard with a single diagonal slash shall signify that there are interior hazards to the structure and that interior firefighting operations should be conducted with extreme caution.

A placard with an “X” in the square shall signify that there are significant structural deficiencies within the building, limiting firefighting to exterior operations only, “…with entry only occurring for known life hazards”

I have a few friends that are first responders and their job is hard enough. This visual warning hopefully makes their job a little safer. Now I know....and maybe you learned something new too.