Besides the obvious dangers of fire and smoke, there is another threat that Greencastle firefighters have identified when entering a burning structure and they're asking residents for help.
With an increasing number of home builders looking for better and more environmentally smart materials to use, many have turned to a substitute for traditional lumber known as "engineered lumber."
Herein lies the problem for firefighters.
A report on the website Firechief.com estimated that as many as half of all new homes today are constructed using engineered lumber.
Engineered lumber is a combination of wood strands, veneers and other wood products, which makes it different from lumber sawn from a piece of timber. It is used for everything from floor beams to walls.
Greencastle Fire Chief Bill Newgent said that unfortunately for firefighters, engineered lumber burns hotter and is subject to collapse, more so than traditional lumber.
He recalled a recent fire at a home constructed of engineered lumber and the danger it posed for the men and women trying to fight the fire. In this case, the second floor of the home collapsed, but fortunately there were no injuries to the firefighters.
But why does the lumber pose such a danger?
According to the report of Firechief.com, builders who use engineered lumber tend to use less nails and instead use adhesive. Engineered lumber tends to be much lighter, yet stronger, than traditional lumber, and requires fewer nails.
All this can spell disaster when fire heats up a building and adhesives begin to fail and floor joists begin to pull apart, according to Newgent who spoke to members of the city council recently.
With that in mind, Newgent presented the council with an ordinance that will allow the fire department to place stickers on the electric meters of homes with engineered lumber, so when firefighters respond to a fire, they will see the sticker and know the home is built with engineered lumber.
"It's purely a safety thing for our firefighters," Newgent told the council.
He said the fire department could pay for the stickers and place them on the electric boxes. They would probably be made of a reflective material so they could be spotted more easily.
"It's going to affect how we operate," he said.
The council was supportive of the plan and voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the ordinance. They will have to approve it a second time at their May meeting for it to become final.
Basically, it requires all new homes and businesses to display the stickers, but it would be voluntary for existing homes and businesses. Based on what the fire chief said, it shouldn't cost the homeowner any money.
"This is a national trend," he said.