BFD PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Firefighters install the Red X sign in a highly visible location where it cannot be tampered with.

“The Belvidere Fire Department has started a program here called the “Red X” program,” said Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser. “It is designed to let firefighters know that a building has significant structural or interior hazards that warrant extreme caution during firefighter efforts.

“Examples of these hazards are: The building is vacant or abandoned, it has been condemned by the City of Belvidere Building Department, there are significant code violations, previous fires, significant health issues, or other situations that pose an unnecessary risk to firefighters or other responders. It is a system to warn firefighters of known hazards.

“I am really pleased that Inspector Travis Tangye brought this program to the City of Belvidere. This is something that the Rockford Fire Dept. has been doing for quite some time. I spoke to the chief in charge of that program in Rockford and he tells me that it works extremely well.

“Any time that we can give our department members a ‘head’s up’ is another opportunity for us to make their job safer and send them home to their families at the end of their shift. By no means does the Red X mean that we will not enter a structure when there is a known life safety situation.”

“It’s first responder safety at stake, so anytime we can make things safer and manage the risks of known hazards, we will do it,” said Inspector Travis Tangye. “I came across this program in Rockford. They were noticing injuries to firefighters when they responded to incidents in abandoned buildings. I know it has been used in Chicago.

“This program is a way to instantly notify incoming responders that there are known structural issues. Life safety is always our priority and these signs do not mean that we will not enter the buildings, they are just a warning to our guys and neighboring departments to be careful. We’ve been working with the Rockford Fire Dept. to get our program off the ground.

“The sign is a last resort,” Tangye said. “We would rather resolve issues instead but when we are running into things like the taxes have not been paid and there is no visible owner, we put up the signs as a last resort.”

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