Tarentum to mark unstable, vacant buildings with a red X | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Tarentum to mark unstable, vacant buildings with a red X

Chuck Biedka
This house at 1254 Martin Ave. in New Kensington has a foundation that is falling in and other dangers. It’s been marked with a Red X to tell neighbors, firefighters, police and rescue crews to not enter the house, said New Kensington Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr. on Monday, March 11, 2019. Tarentum adopted use of the Red X last week.

X marks the rot.

Tarentum Council recently adopted a program to mark about a dozen unstable, vacant buildings in the borough with a red X to warn emergency personnel who might respond to a fire or other incident at the properties that they are structurally dangerous.

“This isn’t the same as properties that need fixed up. This isn’t to identify properties to be demolished or for one with an outstanding code issue,” borough Manager Michael Nestico said. “These are abandoned, vacant and dangerous structures.”

Eureka Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Brad James said Tarentum fire chiefs asked the borough to adopt the red X program.

James said the reflective red Xs will let first responders know right away, even at night, that a building could be structurally dangerous.

Several area municipalities have similar programs, including New Kensington and Greensburg.

“So far 37 houses (in New Kensington) have been marked, but five of them have (since) been demolished,” city Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr said.

“The red X is also good for neighbors to tell (children) about the dangers. Kids are curious. If neighbors see kids playing on a dangerous property, they should call police and tell the kids the place is dangerous,” Saliba said.

Saliba said he uses scrapwood from items shipped to the city Water Authority, paints the wood white and then adds a red X on the white background.

“It doesn’t cost us anything,” he said.

Tarentum officials are considering buying a reflective plaque for their red Xs.

The danger presented by some of Tarentum’s dozen or so red-X buildings are obvious, but not for all of them, said borough code enforcement officer Anthony Bruni.

“There may be a fallen roof (or) floor and, in some cases, the foundations have collapsed,” Bruni said, noting some of the structural problems might not be easily visible at night.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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