Nashville firefighters to take cautious approach at abandoned - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Nashville firefighters to take cautious approach at abandoned buildings

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

When lives are on the line, firefighters spare nothing to rescue those in danger, but in Nashville, a new policy will ensure they will soon be less aggressive when it comes to properties where no one lives and no one is in danger.

Firefighters will always try to save a life. That won't change, but this change ensures Nashville firefighters will not risk their own lives when nobody is inside an abandoned building.

The Nashville Fire Department plans to categorize the buildings in each district so its crews know what is worth an all-out effort to save and what is not.

"It may not be a serviceable building or worth any value," said Assistant Nashville Fire Chief Mike Franklin.

Franklin said the program is modeled after what works in other cities. It's the first comprehensive look, along with codes officials, to identify which houses are empty and perhaps slated for demolition.

"It's not that we don't want to protect somebody's property, but if it's an unnecessary risk on our behalf, we have to re-evaluate how we approach that structure tactically," Franklin said.

In those cases, firefighters will make sure no one is inside first, then they'll surround and drown the house with water to keep the flames from spreading. They won't enter the house to attack the fire from the inside.

"We stand outside. We don't put our people at risk. We don't let the houses around it burn down either. We just put water on it and surround the house," Franklin said.

There will be symbols drawn on the outside of the houses so firefighters will know the difference between houses that are being renovated and should be saved from houses that have no future use and could be classified a public nuisance.

It's important to repeat that firefighters will always first establish that nobody is inside, whether that is homeless people trying to stay warm or runaways seeking shelter, because saving lives is always their priority.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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