The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Lack Of Funding Slowly Kills City's Red 'X' Program

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 13, 2014 7:30PM

3938 and 3940 West Maypole Avenue, built 1894 & 1899. (Photo credit: Gabriel X. Michael)

The city’s red “X” program, established to let first responders know the hazards of entering structurally compromised buildings across Chicago, is slowly but surely going all electronic as the funding for the program dries up and officials struggle to secure new funding for the program.

WBEZ’s Curious City blog reports the Fire Department is already describing the program in the past tense. Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told reporter Chris Bentley, “We have not seen where any such money is readily available. We did not get new funding and expanded the electronic side of the system to continue the awareness for first responders.”

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), who backed the ordinance that established the program, concurred the lack of funding is frustrating but added, “I trust the Fire Department to take the best course of action to keep firefighters safe, because safety is the most important thing.”

As we noted here at Chicagoist in 2012, City Council allotted $675,000 for the program, established after a December 2010 fire in a South Shore laundry claimed the lives of firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum, who became trapped in the building after the roof collapsed. The building that housed the laundry had a host of building code violations, including failure to maintain the roof and the building in structurally sound condition.

With no money for the program, firefighters will rely on updated electronic information on buildings from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OMEC) database. Information about structurally deficient buildings will appear in print and on firefighters mobile terminals in red letters.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office did not respond to several requests for comment from WBEZ about whether the city was still attempting to secure new funding for the red “X” program.