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Date of Issue: March 22, 2007

Fire district seeks waterfront addresses

Firefighters with the West Manatee Fire Rescue District are looking for waterfront addresses.

In an effort to hasten the response to an emergency on or near the water, West Manatee Fire Rescue's "A Shift" team is promoting a volunteer community project that involves attaching addresses on the waterfront sides of properties.

"The fire district would like to see a house numbering system used on the water side much like what is used on the street side of homes," said Lt. John Tynski, of the A Shift.

WMFR Chief Andy Price recently asked each shift with the district to come up with a community service project. The A Shift came up with the idea of encouraging waterfront property owners to post addresses.

Tynski, in an interview last week, cited instances in the past year in which residents called 911 to report an emergency across the water. The callers knew the streets, but could only estimate the numerical address. And the enhanced 911 system only shows the caller location.

Placing numbers on the water side of properties, said Tynski, would make "identification as easy and accurate as possible for neighbors on the other side of the canals and in our channels."

An incorrect address can cost firefighters crucial minutes in responding to an emergency. "A lot of our roads are dead ends," Tynski added. "So, if we miss the road, and go down the wrong one and need to turn around, it takes two or three more minutes. What we're trying to do is quicken the response. This is a voluntary risk-reduction program."

The city of Anna Maria already has an ordinance in place that requires waterfront property owners of one- and two-family residences to place address numerals at least 3 inches high so that they can be seen from the water. Other structures, such as commercial buildings, must display addresses in at least 6-inch-high lettering and visible from the water.

Tynski suggested using the ordinance as a voluntary Island standard, but encouraged property owners to use 6-inch, reflective letters and numerals.

The addresses should be attached to be seen from the water or even across a canal - on a residence, on a seawall, on a dock or even on a sign planted at the water's edge.

"We're offering to help people who need it," Tynski added, suggesting those seeking assistance with attaching addresses call him at 741-3900. "We can't do them all, but we are more than willing to help the ones who truly need help."