For the purposes of this guidance note, an abandoned building is one that is in a state of disrepair to the point where it can pose a health and safety hazard for firefighters.


Abandoned buildings may be deteriorated and structurally unsound. Firefighting near or in these structures may pose significant risks.

Actions for employers

Employers should develop procedures with respect to abandoned buildings.

Considerations for abandoned buildings

Consider the following when developing procedures for abandoned buildings:

  • firefighters should not be committed to interior operations in well advanced fires in abandoned structures
  • identify and document the location of known abandoned buildings in the response area and make the information available to fire crews
  • exercise extreme caution and give due regard to fire conditions and all relevant fireground factors prior to committing firefighters to interior firefighting positions
  • deploy a charged hose line for each crew if interior firefighting operations are undertaken
  • use thermal imaging cameras when they are available and firefighters have been trained on their use and limitations to determine the potential for trapped occupants, the location of the fire and other hazards that are listed below

Hazards in abandoned buildings

The following conditions could exist in abandoned buildings and may create hazardous situations:

  • open shafts
  • pits and holes
  • maze-like configurations
  • limited/obstructed entry and egress
  • blocked or damaged stairs
  • structural degradation
  • combustible contents affecting the fire load
  • delay in discovery of fire
  • multiple fire locations
  • biological hazards
  • hazardous chemicals

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers


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