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Without addresses on mailboxes and homes responders are lost

LACK OF IDENTIFICATION: This mailbox along Miss. 43 North has no numbers on either that relay the address to emergency responders. Firefighters, law enforcement officers and ambulance personnel find it hard to locate an emergency call when the mailbox or home is lacking large reflective numbers that indicated that home’s address. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

LACK OF IDENTIFICATION: This mailbox along Miss. 43 North has no numbers on either that relay the address to emergency responders. Firefighters, law enforcement officers and ambulance personnel find it hard to locate an emergency call when the mailbox or home is lacking large reflective numbers that indicated that home’s address.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Emergency responders have been dealing with the difficulty of locating unmarked homes during 911 calls.
The problem is especially prevalent in instances of mailboxes without visible numbers and in instances where a number of houses are down a private road leaving the mailboxes in a cluster at the highway and no form of identification in front of the home.
Southeast Volunteer Fire Department Safety Officer Tom Henery recalls one recent call he received a call where the response involved driving down a dirt road. As responders drove down the road they passed a line of mobile homes, none of which had mailboxes out front because they were at the highway. To add to the frustration, none of the homes had numbers on the front of the structure or anywhere in the front yard.
“We see it a lot in the fire service,” Henery said.
If the patient is not suffering from a major illness then emergency responders can ask the resident to turn on a light or step outside to help responders locate the home. But this incident involved a patient who was suffering from an illness that prevented her from moving.
While the same is not true for most fire calls, especially when smoke and flames are visible, if firefighters can find a home faster it could mean less property damage. That is especially true when the fire is still contained within the structure and has not grown to the point that it is easily visible, Henery said.
“It’s a frustration all of us share,” Henery said.
The search for a home without proper identification can be even more difficult when calls are received during the night or when it’s raining.
Pearl River County Fire Marshal Albert Lee said there is a county ordinance that states all homes should be properly marked, either with a mailbox in front of the home, or if the mailbox is not in front of the home identification should be on the home or in the front yard in the form of a visible sign. There’s even supposed to be a $50 fine for violations.
“But who’s going to enforce it?” Lee said.
The ordinance also states that the numbers should be at least two inches in size. Henery said it helps if the numbers are reflective.