New homes in Grand Falls-Windsor are frequently missing an important element for emergency responders - a visible house number.

Fire Chief Vince Mackenzie said not enough homes in the town have clearly marked civic numbers.

Not having numbers makes it difficult for responders to know which home to go to, causing them to lose vital minutes or become lost.

"For the fire services, sometimes it's relatively easy — it's the house with the smoke coming out of it," Mackenzie said.

"But if you have a medical emergency or you have a police emergency, a home invasion or something like that, you want the forces to find you."

He said unless there is some element visible from the outside, police won't know which home they're looking at.

"There's no indication from the outside that an emergency is taking place," Mackenzie said.

"It can literally be life and death, for the sake of a $20 number on your home."

Mackenzie said the problem is not isolated to Grand Falls-Windsor.

His counterparts in Conception Bay South tallied their civic numbers and found 2,000 homes were without them.

Mackenzie said numbers need to be large and visible from the street, as well as visible at night.