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'If we can't get to you, we can't help you' - Firefighters warning over letterbox numbering

Our emergency responders are gearing up for a busy summer, and with that comes a timely reminder to make sure your letterbox number is legible.

Letterboxes without identifiable numbers are no help to emergency services. Source: Supplied

Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s are warning the public: "If we can’t get to you, we can’t help you."

Chief Officer at Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade Phelan Pirrie’s surprised at how many properties have illegible numbers or are entirely missing in his area.

Four out of 40 houses on one Muriwai street he surveyed had unidentifiable numbers – that’s one in ten.

Artistically rendered numbers are also no help to crews at night, he says.

There have been instances where it’s taken crews longer to arrive at a property, he says.

“People think of emergency services like the postman. The postie knows your street but we don’t”.

He says there’s a real possibility of the delay in locating a property going wrong.

“Every minute is critical. Three or four minutes longer may be the difference between someone living or not”.

It’s tricky to turn around a large fire engine when crews miss a house on a narrow road – something Mr Pirrie says is especially a problem for rural fire brigades.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand urges residents in rural areas to clearly signpost their properties with their Rural Addresses Property Identification (RAPID) number.

Mr Pirrie says everybody should at least have reflective numbers on both sides of their letterbox, which is a cheap purchase from the hardware store.

By Sam Wat