House numbering crackdown in Canonsburg

February 13, 2013
A house in Canonsburg, properly numbered - Linda Metz/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

House numbers are not only convenient for finding an address, but necessary for emergency responders to locate those in need.

When responding to an emergency, minutes matter. But, fire, ambulance and police personnel often waste time trying to locate an unmarked address.

But, it seems, many people don’t understand – or just don’t care – about the safety of themselves and others.

“It’s a real problem for first responders,” said Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome, who also is the borough’s assistant fire chief. “We get complaints constantly” about houses not being numbered.

Like most other municipalities, Canonsburg follows the International Property Maintenance Code, which requires a building to be numbered and the address placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street fronting the property.

In addition, Canonsburg has its own ordinance regarding house numbering, but it seems it has long been ignored, Rhome said.

“We’ve been trying for years to get property owners to get numbers,” he explained. “I really don’t know what the problem is.”

Enough, however, is enough, said Rhome, who along with council has authorized its two code enforcement officers to track down violators.

The increased effort began 10 days ago, and Officer Sam Ditullio said warnings have been issued to 15 to 20 property owners.

“Right now, we’re canvassing a street and giving out notices to violators,” said Ditullio. Violators are given 15 days to address the problem or face a fine of $50 and up to 90 days in prison for each day they are in violation.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to to enforce it,” he stated.

Property owners are reminded that under the IPMC, the numbers are to be 4 inches high and have a half-inch stroke. They must be placed in a conspicuous spot, preferably near the door or on the mailbox, especially if the house is more than 45 feet from the street.

While emergency personnel will appreciate the numbering of houses, Ditullio pointed out that there are others who will be thankful as well, including postal workers and delivery people.

“It really slows them down when there’s no house number,” he stated.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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