What’s Your House Number? Maplewood Makes House Number Visibility a Law

by Mary Mann
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Beginning September 1, Maplewood Township will be enforcing Ordinance 2999-20, requiring the conspicuous placement of street address numbers on all buildings in the township of Maplewood.

It’s all about public safety.

The ordinance is intended to assist police, fire and ambulance personnel in locating destinations to which they are called. It stipulates that all buildings must display their street address numbers in numerals of at least 4 inches in height “in clear view by the front entrance door of the building.”

If the building has a street mailbox, it also must have the building number displayed.

If a building is not visible from the street, numbers “shall also be placed at an area located on the property which is visible from the abutting street.”

Why the ordinance and why now?

“In my 17 years here, it has been a constant struggle to find numbers on residential properties when responding to emergencies,” says Maplewood Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Ariemma. “This is especially true at night.”

He adds, “The NJ Fire Code requires businesses to have address numbers in a location that can be easily seen by responders. Since the fire code doesn’t necessarily cover residential properties, it was always difficult to enforce. Maplewood developed its own ordinance years ago to address this, but it was vague and rarely enforced. This new ordinance mirrors what the NJ Fire Code requires for businesses, just on residential properties.”

But doesn’t GPS solve this problem?

Nope, says Ariemma.

“We have them but GPS is accurate within about 100 feet.” He add that in an emergency, “there’s not enough time to rely on GPS.”

“The benefit is this will allow first responders to spot the location we are going to faster,” says Ariemma. “Rather than guessing and showing up at the wrong house, having the numbers plainly displayed will help everyone.”

The ordinance goes into effect September 1, 2020. Violators will be fined $100 per offense.

Ariemma says that the 4-inch high numerals are available at cheap prices online or in store from local and big box hardware stores.

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