District hopes new signs resolve confusion

Tired of roaming around rural neighborhoods vainly searching for house numbers while en route to an emergency, Kitsap Fire District 7 has secured a grant to pay for large, easily visible house numbers to help lower response times in sparsely inhabited areas.

The grant, made available through Kitsap County, provides the district with 300 sign blanks and enough numbers to meet any address needs.

The project did not require any matching funds from the fire district.

So far, the district has handed out approximately 100 customized markers, mostly to homes in rural areas. The signs, white numbers on a blue background, are designed like street signs to be highly visible, even at night.

“We had a bunch of citizens come in and say, ‘I’ve been meaning to do something, but I haven’t gotten around to it,’ ” said Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Senter.

The problem of house identification can be a serious one, Senter explained. Lot numbering is not always intuitive, especially on sparsely settled or private roads. In many places, the driveways that separate the homes from the road twist and turn out of sight, making it impossible to tell one address from another.

All told, it adds up to precious minutes lost in emergency situations.

“If we can’t find you, we can’t help you,” Senter said. “And the firefighters get frustrated when they’re trying to respond to an emergency as fast as they can and they can’t find the place.”

Some types of emergencies are less problematic than others, he pointed out. It’s not hard to find a house that’s on fire, even without a specific address. However, when someone is having a heart attack or is bleeding to death, the extra time it takes to figure out which driveway belongs to which house can mean the difference between life and death.

The district still has about two-thirds of its allotted signs to hand out, and requests are still coming in. Fire district spokeswoman Lisa Kirkemo said the grant was intended to target rural homes, but anyone with a house identification problem can potentially receive a sign.

Although she had no exact numbers, Kirkemo said she doesn’t believe the district’s sign supply is enough to cover every eligible home in its coverage area. Some areas have already laid claim to dozens of signs — Southwest Harper Drive alone received approximately 40 signs. Therefore, the district is operating the offer on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact the fire district at: 871-2411.

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