Rockford Fire Department using Red X program for safety

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Red X’s have been popping up on vacant homes all over Rockford as part of a new program by the fire department.

Gladys Curtis Sr. lives on a block where not one but three homes have red x’s on the property, something she’s not worried about.

“If I’m out here, they’re not going in. I’ll call in, or I’ll holler at them, so no, it doesn’t bother me,” says Curtis.

The Red X program is designed as way to let firefighters know that the building has some structural weaknesses before going inside.

“The roof structure did collapse and narrowly missed some of our firefighters. That’s a situation where a sign like this would have warned our firefighters this building has some structural issues and would help drive our tactics a little bit more,” says Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matt Knott.

The Red X also defines some of the buildings as being on a demolition list and helps neighbors keep an eye on what’s happening next door.

“The Red X sign indicates that nobody should be in those structures, so they're quickly notifying authorities to make those building boarded up, and secured, and any people that are inside are vacated out of that building,” says Knott.

Emergency responders say there haven’t been any fires in the marked buildings since the program started six months ago, which is something that doesn’t surprise Curtis.

“No, if you’re going to do something wrong, you’re gonna do it. Whether it has it on there or not,” says Curtis.

Right now, there are more than 80 structures with the ink. The Fire Department hopes to have over 100 within the next two months.

Rockford currently has more than 4,000 vacant homes, though not all vacant homes qualify in the international fire code to have a red x.

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