The legislature’s public safety committee approved a bill Thursday that would require homeowners to prominently display their house numbers.
House Bill 5542 aims to make it easier for first-responders to find people in need during emergencies.
“While I don’t like mandates of any kind, my own fire department and police department have shared with me over the years that it’s a real issue for them: when they get an emergency call…they cannot find the address,” said Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield. “They’re trying to do their job and they have to react quickly…I think it’s really the least we can do for our first responders…they need to be able to get to the location and they should be able to have a number that’s easily seen.”
But some lawmakers from rural areas saw the hand of big government in the proposal. “We’re just too far-reaching here,” said Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, one of five lawmakers on the committee who voted against the bill.
D’Amelio also represents Middlebury and said some members of that rural community chose to live a more secluded lifestyle–they prefer post office boxes instead of having their mail delivered, for instance. “I know public safety…was an issue…but if they chose to have a higher risk, to not have a number on their house, I think that’s their choice,” he said.
Rep. Louis Esposito, D-West Haven, said public safety should trump those concerns. “I don’t feel it’s an infringement on anybody’s personal right,” he said. “I think it’s incumbent upon them to have a house number. For the first responders who have to come to the homes, it’s much easier to find.”