Monroe firefighters go low-tech to save time, lives



Posted on January 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 20 at 6:20 PM

In Snohomish County, a low-tech idea is helping first responders get to homes much faster during emergencies.

Aluminum sign poles with house numbers on them are the Monroe Fire Department’s newest tool.

Rural areas account for more than 75% of its 55-mile coverage area.

“There’s some pretty obscure addressing. With the overhanging trees and the fog, it’s tough to see especially at night,” said Pete Parrish, a firefighter/paramedic.

First responders were getting lost, impacting their response time and delaying critical care to those depending on them. More than 85% of the calls in the district are medical-related.

“It’s quite frustrating,” said Parrish.

A federal grant helped the department purchase at least 200 address poles.  Average response times of 4-5 minutes were trimmed down at least a minute.

“It could save lives,” said Parrish.

Elsie Fulcher lives in rural Monroe and was one of the first to have a pole placed in front of her home.  She recently had a scare when someone suspicious lurked on her property.

“I was home alone, I called 911 and it took 40 minutes for the deputies. By that time the car had left,” said Fulcher.

Deputies were circling around and couldn’t find her house. According to Fulcher, the new pole gives her peace of mind.

“Help will be there if I need it,” she said.

The poles were so popular; the fire department ran out of them.  More are available now at the Monroe Fire Department’s Station 31 for free.

Firefighters can install them for residents, if they’re physically unable to.