Cities are starting to place stronger focus on the threat abandoned buildings pose to firefighters. This emphasis comes at least in part due to lawsuits like the one filed by the family of Chicago Firefighter Edward Stringer, who died in 2010 while searching for possible squatters in a vacated dry-cleaning business. The property had been vacant for five years and cited multiple times by the city for non-compliance. Stringer’s family is suing the building’s owners, while the city itself has received bad press for not going after the owners with more vigor.

“It is a good case for all of us chiefs to learn from,” said Robin Nicoson, chief of safety for the Indianapolis Fire Department, who has been following the Chicago case closely. “I think that [the lawsuit] is going force better procedures to be put into place compared to what cities have now.”

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