Officials: Marked addresses aid emergency response

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Emergency services personnel encourage residents to make suretheir home addresses are clearly marked to help improve responsetimes when even seconds count.

Clifford Galey, Lincoln County fire coordinator, and RobertPatterson, Lawrence County fire coordinator, said unmarkedresidences pose a problem for firefighters attempting to respond toemergencies.

“It’s a pretty big problem here because all the departmentscover such a large area,” Patterson said. “If we don’t know thepeople, the house can be hard to find sometimes.”

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Most often, Patterson said, firefighters have to rely on theirpersonal knowledge of their community to know where a house islocated. In addition to street addresses, dispatches include thename of the homeowner to help firefighters identify the home.

Patterson estimated about 50 percent of the houses in the countyhave addresses that are clearly visible from the road.

In Lincoln County, Galey estimated that number is lower. Heguessed that roughly 60 to 70 percent of the addresses inBrokohaven and Lincoln County are not properly posted.

“Properly posted means that they can be read from the road at aminimum speed of 40 miles per hour,” Galey said.

Usually, he said, reflective numbers posted on mailboxes are thebest option. However, “we do have several with mailboxes not attheir house and it does make it harder.”

Patterson said they are requesting citizens that post thenumbers not to aid fire department personnel but also to improveprotection for the homeowner.

“It not only assists us but other emergency services as well,”he said.

Patterson pointed out that Lawrence County Hospital recentlyswitched from a self-operated ambulance system to a privatecontractor. Although many of the ambulance drivers transferredtheir employment to the contractor, there are still drivers thatwill be responding to emergencies who are not from the county andmay not be familiar with where people live.

Address numbers usually may be found at any hardware store,Patterson said, adding that the Monticello Fire Department alsowill make markers for a fee of $15.

Seniors do have a free option, Galey said. TRIAD, anorganization composed of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department,Brookhaven Police Department and the AARP, will provide white PVCpipes with addresses for placement at the end of driveways.

The fire officials also urged residents not to steal roadsigns.

Doug Moak, District Four supervisor for Lincoln County, said itis costly to replace the signs and several county workers spendmuch of their time each week replacing missing signs.

“I think it’s a countywide problem,” he said. “I don’t thinkpeople realize how that affects the emergency services.”