Vancouver laneway signage project launched to help emergency responders locate addresses

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      A new initiative to help shave crucial seconds and minutes off arrival times by emergency services is being launched in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) launched Project Landmark today (April 18) with a news conference in the laneway of the 600 block of Union Street.

      As part of this pilot project, about 400 free metal address plates are being distributed in Strathcona so that residence addresses will be visible from alleyways.

      Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow of the VPD’s Operations division explained that first-responder efforts can be hampered when dispatched to a lane location where house numbers aren’t displayed.

      The numbers will help firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other services locate homes faster and accurately, and will help to prevent delays.

      “No one questions the importance of a visible address to first responders in an emergency, but most people don’t consider the alley-side of their homes,” Chow stated in a news release. “There are many situations when police officers, firefighters, or paramedics need to find your home from the alley. The moments wasted going to the front of the house could mean the difference between life and death.”

      At the conference, Chow said that can help in situations in which officers need to identify their location to call for backup, such as during chases through alleys, or for 911 callers reporting incidents witnessed or heard from a laneway. Chow added that it can also help with the increase in the number of laneway houses.

      “The bottom line is that we can’t help you if we can’t find you,” Chow said.

      According to a VPD news release, an informal audit of Strathcona found that 419 out of 570 residences, or 74 percent of homes, didn’t have an address displayed from the rear side.

      Chow said that they hope the project expands across Vancouver and that other communities also implement the same measures.

      The project is being supported by the Vancouver Police Foundation, which has paid for the free address plates and has provided $8 million in funding to over 150 safety initiatives outside of the annual VPD budget.

      While the city address bylaw requires residents to maintain suitable address signage, it is not required for the rear of premises.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook