Membership has its privileges and Cohoe residents are finding this out firsthand as they are in the process of receiving free address signs.
"There's a $20 fee for the signs normally," said Max Best, planning director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Department.
The borough has agreed to provide the signs and labor in the Cohoe area in the interest of pubic safety, and to meet goals of the KPB FireWise Program and the Cohoe FireWise Committee. Home and property owners in the northern area of Cohoe Loop Road will receive the signs and have them implemented.
The FireWise group is a neighborhood effort to mitigate the impact of forest fires by providing education, assistance and information to communities about wildfire prevention and protection. The Cohoe FireWise community has been particularly active. They meet the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Kasilof Fire Station, they implemented a neighborhood slash disposal site last year and they are pursuing implementing the address signs.
"They clearly identify driveways, allowing easy recognition by emergency service personnel -- such as police, fire and ambulance -- to promptly and accurately identify a location in the event of a 9-1-1 emergency," Best said in regard to the signs.
Like typical street signs, these green address signs with white numbers are durable and highly reflective, which makes them easier to spot during emergencies and inclement weather. Because of this, Best said the signs should be left in place, even if residents already have their own address sign.
"You can have a sign in addition to these, and it doesn't matter if it conforms to our standard or not, but these should be left so emergency service providers know what to look for. In a snowstorm at 2 o'clock in the morning, you can see them much better," he said.
Best said leaving the signs in place also allows emergency responders to move more swiftly since they can read the address signs, and their consecutive number sequence, to know how much farther they still have to go to get to the correct address.
"They can use the pattern to know if they are getting close," he said.
Best said the address signs also could be a benefit to residents that typically give direction via landmarks, particularly since in the past emergencies responders have received directions such as "go past the gravel pit and turn right on the third street after the abandon vehicle," which may not be specific enough during an emergency, but can also in some remote areas describe the appearance of several similar neighborhood locations.
Best said for people with young children especially, it would be easier to teach them to give their address number, rather than trying to teach the youngster to verbally relay the route if they needed to call 9-1-1 because a parent was hurt.
"You never know when a child may need to tell someone how to get to their house because a parent has fallen off a ladder," he said.
The first phase of implementing the signs will be to crosscheck emergency services records for residents to their actual residential location.
"We'll be checking to make sure the numbers are accurate, since if they don't match, it could be a problem or cause delays when 9-1-1 emergency services are dispatched," Best said.
After an address is correctly identified, the address sign will be installed. Both of these tasks will require KPB employees to access public right-of-ways for the next few weeks, but they shouldn't need to access private property during this time.
"We should have the project completed by August," Best said.
For more information on the Kenai Peninsula FireWise program, visit www.firewisekp.com.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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