History of 9-1-1

9-1-1 is a three-digit telephone number that has been set aside as the telephone number to be used in the event of an emergency and as a means of calling for police, fire, or emergency medical assistance.  In some countries, a three-digit number has been used for many years.  Great Britain has used the digits 999 since 1930, Belgium uses 900, Denmark uses 000.  The concept of a three-digit emergency number in the United States is the result of the urging of some concerned citizens and the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement in 1967, that a single telephone number be established nationwide for reporting emergency situations.  In January 12, 1968, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) designated 9-1-1 to be used throughout the country as the dedicated emergency telephone number. During the 1970’s, a movement began to provide nationwide support and coordination of 9-1-1.  Beginning with California, several states passed legislation encouraging or mandating local installation of 9-1-1 systems.  In Texas, the earliest systems were city-oriented and primarily funded through the assistance of federal grants.  The first 9-1-1 system installed in Texas was the City of Odessa in April 1970.  The 9-1-1 system replaces existing seven-digit emergency numbers, which are difficult to remember and vary between services and communities.  As the availability of federal funds declined, cities and counties were left to use general fund appropriations for the implementation of systems.  In 1987, House Bill 911 laid the framework for statewide implementation of 9-1-1 through local Councils of Governments, also known as Regional Planning Commissions.

SETRPC 9-1-1 Mission

“To implement, administer, and oversee the fiscally responsible operation of the Enhanced 9-1-1 emergency telephone system in Hardin, Jefferson and Orange counties.”

The Network is responsible for the following programs and activities:

  • providing basic telecommunicator training for dispatchers on the handling of 9-1-1 calls and the use of 9-1-1 equipment
  • providing training to dispatchers on the use of a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) in compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act
  • providing specialized training for dispatchers in the areas of Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency Medical Dispatching and Stress Identification and Management
  • developing, implementing and maintaining a continuing education program for ages pre-school through senior citizen on the proper use of 9-1-1
  • informing the public about the use of 9-1-1 through news releases and media campaigns
  • continually verifying, updating and maintaining a complete data base of area street ranges and addresses
  • completing a tri-county rural addressing project, which is critical in selectively routing emergency calls and assisting emergency service providers in locating rural residents in the most timely manner
  • maintaining rural addressing in Hardin, Jefferson and Orange counties and assigning physical street addresses for new houses, buildings and developments; and
  • serving as the primary liaison between telephone companies, local governments and elected officials, and public and private emergency service providers.
Funding of 9-1-1

A statutory fee of $.50 per line per month is billed to all residential, business, and wireless customers through telephone bills and remitted to the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC). The money is then reallocated to SETRPC.  The regional 9-1-1 program is funded completely through the 9-1-1 monthly service fee. In addition to the service fee, there is a 9-1-1 equalization surcharge of 0.3 (three-tenths of one percent) on intrastate long distance calls.

Public Education

SETRPC provides 9-1-1 public education throughout the region.  Educational materials are designed, developed and distributed to the general public through this program.  SETRPC participates in numerous local health and safety fairs and other special events to spread the word about 9-1-1.

Cell Phone Sally

Cell Phone Sally is the national mascot for 9-1-1 and is used extensively in Southeast Texas. Cell Phone Sally DVD and classroom kits (available in both English and Spanish) are available to every Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade class in the region. Accompanying the video is a classroom kit that reinforces the information in the video. The kit includes a poster, stickers, activity pages and emergency phone cards for home use.

Rural Addressing
9-1-1 Emergency Network was assigned the task of providing physical addressing for residences and businesses located in the unincorporated areas of Hardin, Jefferson and Orange Counties.  All rural route box addresses in the three counties have been converted to physical street addresses.

Prior to 1992, there were no standards to follow for the naming of roads and no formal guidelines for establishing addresses.  Authority to set addressing standards was granted to counties in 1989 through Texas Senate Bill 1091 which amended the County Road and Bridge Act. Section 2.011 (b) of the County Road and Bridge Act, Art. 6702-1, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes, authorized Commissioner’s Courts to adopt their own addressing standards to name roads and assign address numbers to property within the unincorporated areas.  In conjunction with County Judges and the Commissioner’s Courts in Hardin, Jefferson and Orange counties, the 9-1-1 Network developed addressing standards which were approved by Commissioner’s Court and adopted through a Court Order in each county.

The Enhanced 9-1-1 system selectively routes incoming 9-1-1 calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAPs) and displays the caller’s telephone number and location information on the dispatcher’s computer screen.  To provide this information, every structure must have a physical street address.  As part of the 9-1-1 implementation process, the SETRPC Emergency Network designed a regional rural addressing approach to providing building numbers and road names in the unincorporated areas of the three county region.  Due to the manner in which rural box numbers were assigned, there is frequently a lack of consistency in the sequence of numbers.  Also, rural routes do not provide police, fire and ambulance personnel with specific site locations in an emergency.

For the Enhanced system to work to its full potential, a systematic procedure for identifying all unnamed roads, assigning street names and providing building numbers was developed.  The new physical street addressing replaced the route box system and provides emergency personnel with specific address information.

Address Maintenance
The SETRPC 9-1-1 Network is responsible for address maintenance in the unincorporated areas of the three county region.  In this capacity, the 9-1-1 program is responsible for maintaining the county-wide addressing system.  Address maintenance is an on-going process and involves:

  • assignment of addresses to new structures
  • numbering new subdivisions and developments
  • reviewing requests for new street name assignments and changes
  • maintaining an accurate geobase (i.e. digital maps, maps, database)
  • solving address discrepancies and numbering problems
  • providing addressing/street delineation maps and database information to other agencies for emergency service provision
  • re-addressing streets or areas where inconsistencies in numbering cause problems for emergency service providers
  • maintaining the integrity of the 9-1-1 database through verification and updates to the telephone company’s Master Street Address Guide (MSAG); and
  • developing and maintaining accurate maps and map books for distribution to emergency service providers

When an address request is received, it is documented on a address request form.  The Addressing Department will try to gain as much information about the property as possible over the telephone.  But, just in case some field work proves to be necessary, the citizen is asked to place a stick, flag or other identifying marker on their property near the street in line with the front door or its approximate future location.  This allows field personnel to calculate an address based on the location of the identifying marker.  A new address is calculated and the mapping data is updated to reflect these changes.  The citizen is notified of their address and the cross reference is updated.

Getting a New Address

Getting a new address for the unincorporated areas of Hardin, Jefferson and Orange counties is easy – just call 409-724-1911

and the 9-1-1 Addressing Department will be happy to assist you.

You may need a new address if you are:

  • building a new residence or business
  • moving a trailer onto a piece of land
  • buying property, and/or
  • wanting a physical address for mail delivery