Prince Rupert emergency response organizations requested on Oct. 25 Prince Rupert city council implement a new bylaw to increase house number size for life safety and easier emergency response access. This screenshot shows how increased number size can assist with house location. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert emergency response organizations requested on Oct. 25 Prince Rupert city council implement a new bylaw to increase house number size for life safety and easier emergency response access. This screenshot shows how increased number size can assist with house location. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Emergency response may be delayed by lack of house numbers

Prince Rupert emergency responders team up to lobby for new bylaw regulating number visibility

Emergency ambulance, fire and police service calls may be delayed due to lack of visible house numbers, Prince Rupert City Council heard, on Oct. 25.

City emergency services have teamed up with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to lobby the council into implementing a new bylaw stipulating the size and visibility of house and building numbers to increase safety.

Jessica Friesen, community paramedic for BC Ambulance, spoke on behalf of the ambulance service, RCMP, fire department and MCFD citing examples of where confusion may reign in emergency response, especially after dark.

The city council heard that an analysis of house numbers was conducted by the RCMP, with 85 per cent of areas in the city canvassed having a deficiency rate of more than 20 per cent during daylight hours. At night only 11 per cent of houses that were analyzed were able to be identified.

Friesen said it’s common in Prince Rupert to see houses built below street level and with vehicles parked along the street, houses down driveways of 100m to 2oom back from the road, all creating difficulty in first responders locating the actual emergency. Smaller numbers, numbers with an obstructed view, no numbers at all, non-contrasting numbers and numbers placed too low can all exacerbate hardships in emergency response.

The low visibility of house numbers increases response times to emergencies because the responders may drive past and have to U-turn to search for the residence.

“From my personal experience, it’s not uncommon to turn around or request a callback from our dispatcher clarifying an address at least once a day, if not more. I’m only one of 15 paramedics, 20 firefighters and over 40 RCMP in town,” she said.

Friesen said increased house number size and better visibility could advance emergency response times anywhere from two to 10 minutes, thus saving more lives. The emergency responders suggest a new bylaw stipulating numbers be at least 4 inches high, 0.5 inches wide, contrasting colours, with no obstructions and adequate lighting to be viewed 24 hours a day.


K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter