Emergency responders need house numbers clearly posted in Thornhill, B.C.

Imagine a fire ignites in your residence and you call 911, provide your address, and the fire engine just drives past your place.

Thornhill deputy Fire Chief Christopher England stands by a house number that is clearly posted and reflective so it shows up at night

Imagine that a fire ignites in your residence or a medical emergency happens and you call 911, provide your address, and the fire engine just drives past your place.

This can happen in Thornhill’s rural properties when a house number placed at the end of a long driveway may be obstructed by branches or just not be easily seen.

“Especially when it’s dark, it’s a real challenge and typically they’re normally behind a vehicle or a hedge or not there at all,” said Thornhill fire chief Rick Boehm about house numbers.

“It’s really embarrassing to turn around four apparatus (fire engines) because we passed by the place,” he added.

Boehm is asking residents to make sure they have a number that can be easily read in daytime and at night which can help  firefighters to find the correct place.

Right now, Thornhill Fire department is looking to educate and make residents aware of where they put their house numbers or if they don’t have a sign with the house number, to put them out at the end of their driveways so firefighters can find their place if they call 911.

North Terrace is pretty good with their house number signs, he said, adding that the Lakelse Lake area tends to be a challenge.

One driveway on First Avenue has four properties on it and the numbers jump from the 2000 block to the 3000 block faster than expected so numbers on each of the four properties would help with identifying them, said Boehm.

Queensway addresses can be a bit difficult to find too, he added.

Upper and lower Thornhill are pretty good, he added.

There are several ways to make house numbers show at night; some are quite expensive but there are cheaper, just as effective ways too.

For example, there are house numbers that can light up at night but you can buy reflective tape for about $10 locally and cut it to fit on top of your current house number to make them more visible at night, he said.

It’s easy to say that the residence who called 911 is likely the one with flames coming out of it but sometimes it’s not that straightforward; instead there will be smoke floating out from behind a hedge giving firefighters a general idea of where to go, but having a visible house number is one less thing firefighters have to worry about, said Boehm.

“I’m just making sure they’ve done everything they can to help us,” he said about residents.

The average Thornhill firefighter has three years experience and you can’t necessarily learn all of the addresses in the whole community in three years, said Boehm.