County to enforce 911 address ordinance
Written by Mallory Biering   

As of Monday, September 17th, Bamberg County Sheriff's Office began counting down a 60-day period to the enforcement of an ordinance regarding the 911 addresses. Sheriff Darnell said not enforcing citizens of the county to properly display the 911 address signs was because the economy was doing so poorly. However, Sheriff Darnell said this was not going to turn into a life or death situation.

After the September 5th article in The Advertizer-Herald, concerning the 911 addresses, phone calls, emails and other types of information flooded into the newspaper office. It seemed this was an issue on the minds of fire fighters, police officers, EMS members, and even political officials.

The 911 address ordinance was put in place in 1996, to make sure each citizen of Bamberg County could be provided faster and more effective police, fire, and emergency medical services, but it is dependent on the "correct road addresses on all houses and businesses located within," the county. The ordinance states that citizens not having the correct address, along with residential numbers properly displayed at their residence, "within twenty-one days [of] receiving notification of the proper number address are guilty of a misdemeanor, triable in magistrate's court, and upon conviction, will be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days. Each day in violation constitutes a separate offense."

The problem emergency personnel are having is that even though it has been almost ten years and one million dollars later since the 911 system was implemented, the amount of time it takes to get to an emergency is increasing, and people are taking chances with their lives.

According to the ordinance, the numbers on the street signs must be at least 3-inches high, and visible from the roadway at night. However, if the home is more than 50-feet from the road, there must also be a second sign posted near the roadway. Sharon Hammond, Emergency Services Director of Bamberg County, stated that citizens do not have to use the usual 911 signs (the blue or green signs printed at the fire departments), as long as the signs fit the specifications listed in the ordinance. On the other hand, officials who deal with emergency situations, find the blue and green signs are easiest to locate.

Sheriff Darnell made a very clear point when explaining this situation. It's either spend $20 to make sure your address is correctly displayed on your property, or take a chance with emergency services not being able to locate you in the event of an emergency. He also said he would help find a way to make sure those who could not afford to pay for a sign would receive help.

Hammond also made a clear point that each citizen must do their part to help manage the 911 system. Citizens must either call (803) 245-4313, or come to the Emergency Service building, located at 2893 Main Highway in Bamberg, where Hammond and her staff will assist in giving new addresses or making updates in a timely manner.

If a citizen plans to update their 911 address, Hammond has requested some of the following information: the current address and landline phone number, the previous address and landline phone number (if there was one), the color of the home, their neighbors' addresses, and a utility bill. The more information given to the 911 services team, the easier it will be for them to locate the correct location of a person's home.