First responders urge public to install visible house and commercial building numbers

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:32 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - When responding to emergencies, first responders need to find the correct home or commercial structure. But firefighters are highlighting an all-too-common issue they run into while on the job - not being able to find the addresses.

Making address numbers easily visible to first responders could make the difference when every second counts.

“People think oh this will never happen to me,” said Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Community Outreach Coordinator Brian Clingenpeel. “If I have a fire here or if someone in my family had a medical emergency that kind of thing – would the first responders be able to find me? And that’s really a question that people need to ask.”

Clingenpeel says finding the home they’re dispatched to can be difficult to find due to house numbers not being displayed. This can slow the response during an emergency.

“So if it’s an EMS emergency and it’s a stroke or a heart attack or something like that – times is of the essence. And so we need to be able to find that. The same is true for a fire emergency – I mean time is of the essence,” explained Clingenpeel. “We need to be able to get there in a hurry.”

County officials say often the issue is more prevalent in rural areas.

“Sometimes the houses sit way back off the road, very long driveway,” added Clingenpeel. “And if there is not an address marker out at the main road or something that points us to the direction of your house number then we have a very difficult time finding those addresses.”

Roanoke County Ordinance Section 7-81 requires residents and commercial spaces to display numbers that are “not be less than three (3) inches in height and shall be made of a durable and clearly visible or light-reflecting material.”

“So, it is basically a Roanoke County law that says that you are supposed to have your house numbers clearly visible so that first responders can find you,” said Clingenpeel.

First responders say displaying numbers can assist all agencies.