1. #1
    colfireman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking Sirens and Air Horns

    Hi there.Does your dept currenty use sirens or air horns to alert?Did public pressure cause your dept to elimiate them?how do you deal with complaints?any info on your status will be much appreciated.Sorry my issue was with calling out members,not riding on the apparatus.

    [This message has been edited by colfireman (edited July 06, 2000).]

  2. #2
    E310
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    IM glad to see some other depts. Are having the same problem. We do use lights and sirens to alert motorists, and we have received complaint's for nearby homes. I feel that it is the STATE law that both red lights and sirens be used when an emergency vehicle is in motion to an emergency call. We have some members that feel that they need to complain about the use of the required warning devises. I have also been using the air horns to warn others of the vehicles movement (2 blows =forward motion, 3= reverse, how do other feel about this?
    Thanks to all,
    E310

  3. #3
    M G
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I think they mean to alert your personnel of a call..not on the apparatus

    ------------------
    The information presented herin is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

  4. #4
    E310
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Good point MG but even so, My Dept is having a problem with citizens and members complianing about the use of audible warning devises. And I was just asking if anyone else had a problem like mine.

    Thanks,
    E310

  5. #5
    Engine58
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    My town also the neighbors complain when the trucks go out on a call. there is usually alot of traffic on the main roads during the day but not to much at night. The neighbors who live near the firehouses get mad when we go to fires because the Federals wake them up at night and there opinion is THERE IS NO NEED FOR SIRENS AND HORNS!! I cant believe that!!..But what I find funny is one of these people who were complaining had a fire in there house one time. We all shut our sirens off as soon as we got near his street but we got when we get there YOU BET YA THE USUAL LINES WHAT TOOK YOU GUYS SO LONG!!! Even though the fire was out when we got there he complained we took forever to get on scene.

    ------------------
    Andrew
    South Amboy, New Jersey
    Junior EMS Responder
    "EMTS DON'T DIE THEY JUST STABILIZE"

  6. #6
    truckie46
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    Reliance fire dept. was forced to remove their swarning sirens by technology. The sirens were old and the town fathers did not want to replace them due to increasing public pressure. All 50 volunteers carry pagers as a result. However, the farmers on the outskirts, who depended upon the siren, have a difficult time hearing the pagers when on an open tractor.

  7. #7
    smokeatr#50
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Since there appears to be two different topics I will address both. The first is how do companies dispatch. We have individual pagers and a house siren. When it goes off in the middle of the night people complain about the noise. My response to that is I ask them if they would want the house siren blowing at 3 in the morning if it their house on fire!!!! It is amazing how people will back down at that point
    The second is responding. I am a driver and anyone who is a driver who has taken the E.V.O.C. certification course would know when those lights shine, the feds better whine. Once again, people complain about it in the middle of the night but you know what?? I don't care, if we're up, they're up!!!! If it is a state law, then it makes no difference what people say, if they have a problem, just tell them you are a law abiding citizen who is just following laws and if they have a problem with that, tell them to call National Fire Academy and they will set you straight.

    Sorry to vent my friends, but we are helping people 24 hours a day, volunteering ourselves, missing meals, sleep and time with loved ones and many people do not seem to appreciate this fact. So if someone has a problem, tell them to go pound sand and to join their local firecompany so they can see what we all go through!!!!


  8. #8
    M G
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    "if we're up, they're up" thats about the worst possible public relations statement I can think of related to this topic. Be real. Most calls answered at night can be done in a no lights and sirens mode. Its wonderful that everyone sticks to the "if the lights are on the siren is on" theory...not realistic. Thats more often than not the wacker justification, for the boys who like to play. I respectfully acknowledge the safety conscious adult firefighters that stand by this theory, but still disagree. Day or night the siren is on when there is a need...open empty roadways do not require the use of a siren. You should be at maximum attention anyway, if someone appears ahead in your path, turn the siren on. If every fire truck and ambulance had its siren running the entire time the lights were activated going to calls we would go nutty. Id rather be able to talk to the crew and listen to the radio traffic as much as possible and save the noise for the intersections and traffic areas. I've followed this theory for years and never had a problem or near problem. Most if not all of the people i work with are the same way. The novelty gets old for some of us. How about just turning off the lights for a good percentage of your calls too, theres little justification for killing anyone over an investigation or an MVA or something non life threatening.

    Unfortunately the public will never join us, they will only scrutinize. Live with the fact that you need to justify your actions and theres more purposeful ways than the ole "we have always done it that way" and "if you dont like it, join us" theories. Be practical and safe. The siren on our house does not blow after 10pm and before 8am every night out of respect to the citizens and because we are all home in bed with a nice pager next to our beds. Those are just my opinions fellas.

    ------------------
    The information presented herin is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

  9. #9
    pokeyfd12
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post


    We used to have a Gamewell box alarm system that would punch out on the tape and blow the whistle with a box code. Up until a couple of years ago, if you counted the whistle on your way out of your house, you would know which box it was. Most of us used to keep a card with the box numbers and locations on the dash of the car so we could look it up fast.

    Those days have passed. We did away with the boxes thanks to 9-1-1 and cellphones. We never had any complaints that I know of in the 20 years I have been around. Actually as a fund-raiser mailing we used to send out a calendar with the box numbers on it so the general public would know where the call was if they were interested. We spoke to dozens of locals about whether it would make a difference to them if we got rid of the whistle or turned it off to one round after 8 p.m. Almost every one said that they thought it would be a mistake to get rid of it. People are used to hearing the firehouse whistle at 7 p.m. (weekday test) and 1 p.m. Saturday. People also said that when they heard the whistle at any other time, they knew that emergency vehicles would be eventually coming and to keep their eyes open for trucks and POV's.

    There is a department in the county that also were going to turn their alert whistle off. They did for a while and were contacted by a convent across the street from the firehouse inquiring as to whether the fire dept. has been having a slow month or if there was something wrong with their whistle. They advised the convent that it was shut-off. The convent asked them to turn it back on because everytime the whistle went off, they would pray for whoever needed was asking for help and for those answering the call. Nice huh???

    Lt. Kevin C. (aka Pokey)

  10. #10
    F02
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    MG What will you tell the lawyer when your on the stand and he asks"were all your warning devices in operation at the time of the accident"It ain't gonna matter who's fault it was. It now will be your fault no matter how stupid a thing the other driver did."If were up there up"I would'nt tell anyone but other firefighters that but, it lets em know were out there working, covering ther *****.

  11. #11
    vollieff
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    M G
    I agree with you on the fact that sirens are not needed all the time, but it is the law here in PA. You must have sirens and lights on totally or not at all. Just using them when your in root when you feel they are needed isn't a choice legally. With the sue happy society we live in, we must follow the laws as much as possible.
    at our company we have 2 sirens one at the house and one in the town hall. we decided to shut the town hall one down after 11 PM. as for the nieghbors complaining about truck sirens, we have had a couple of complaints some to do with the very loud jake on our tanker, so we use the jake in low on latenight calls. But as far as the sirens, we use them at all hours. Better safe thatn sorry. So if some people are woken up, well we do appologize, but with the laws the way they are we have to do what we have to do.

  12. #12
    F02
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I LIKE the automatic mutual aid from God that pokyfd12's neighbors have got.

  13. #13
    VVFC2LT
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Our borough still uses a siren system. The siren blows at 9:45pm every night to alert for curfew. The siren is also a designated Civil Defense alert. Meaning that if there is a tornado warning or severe weather approaching it will do three seperate 1 minute cycles. As far as warning sirens on the trucks, we let them blow...UNLESS it's 3 in the morning. If there is not much traffic, we hit the air horn and siren at intersections.

    One of our neighboring towns had a problem with their siren. The neighbors complained that it was too loud and that they didn't need it anymore since they all had pagers. So the department decided that they were going to get rid of it. After a couple of calls, the neighbors complained again (go figure). They were saying they didn't know when there was a fire call so that they could get their kids away from the road. So after some discussion, the department now lets whistle blow for one cycle. That alerts the residents that there is something going on.

  14. #14
    pfpchief
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    we still let the whistle blow 24/7 for our calls .there are 4 in town 1 on each of the stations and one on the edge of town. it was brought up to stop them but our board of fire engineers voted it down. my guess is that if the residents wanted to press it the boro council would turn them off.as for engines we use lights and sirens according to the call.if its a dwelling weare sreaming em all the way if its an alarm system we blow them at itersections and at high traffic areas ad yes we use them at 3 in the morning then its more likely someone is not paying attention because they think noone is on the road. we also have reduced speed where an officer arives on the seen and determines that its not an emergency. then its lights only no sirens

  15. #15
    M G
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    (Lights only...no sirens)
    Ok, so you stop at intersections and wait in the line of traffic with the lights going and confuse the crap out of people..yes? Sorry, but thats ridiculous. If the call warrants a reduce speed order, then it doesnt warrant lights or siren use. As someone mentioned before and I said earlier, if we are running to a call and we are going emergency mode, the siren might not always be on, but when we approach traffic it comes on. Sitting in traffic or driving around to calls with the lights on and not using the siren is a very bad idea. Some people will yield upon noticing the visual signals, some won't see them. You, as the driver may think it's safe to go..NOT. If you are going to go, that siren needs to be on in these types of situations. If you don't intend to use the siren/horn, turn the lights off. I'm sure I will take scrutiny for my comments, but I am a realist and I am also safety conscious.

    ------------------
    The information presented herin is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

  16. #16
    Haligan125
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Here's my deal

    I do not run sirens in rural areas with little traffic. On one of the ambulances we use at my Job,(EMT-B for money, fight fire for fun) we have the siren connected to the horn so you can tap it and get noise. I use the siren at all intersections and for heavy traffic. I don;t see the point of using them when they are not needed. I can get noise quick when I need it. SO I just use it then. That's what I think. to me it is overkill if you use them all the time, and I would complain if I knew that they were being used unessisarily.

  17. #17
    Lgreeves
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    We are paged to calls. Calls that happen in the dead of night we usually do not run sirens. Lights yes. If two or more truck are responding to a rural location and are in single file the leader will keep the siren going. Our trucks have the siren in the light bar on top of the cab and that makes for a long ride with you ears ringing. We do not have a written rule on this. It is the disretion of the driver and passager in the cab on this subject.

  18. #18
    jerrymo91
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    MG I agree with your statements about excessive use of both mechanical and electrical sirens when not warranted. Have no problem making the public aware of our presence when clearing intersections and traffic on roadways, but not at 2:00 A.M. on a deserted road.

  19. #19
    SCFAO
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The Dept I used to vollie with had a station siren even though we all carried pagers. I can't recall any complaints about it's use while it was in service, but I can see where if it were in use now there would be complaints due to the population explosion in the area.

    As for the apparatus siren issue....it's really a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation. You can say that running the siren at 0300 is overkill due to lack of traffic, and for the most part I agree...however, I can also see reasons why you should use the siren even at 0300. #1 here it is state law, if the lights are on and you are in motion...the siren has to be on also. #2 darkness hinders your ability to see pedestrians, people working on disabled vehicles,etc. At the very least, the sound of the siren will let them know they may be better off standing on the shoulder(or further..depending on how wild your drivers are )until the vehicle passes.
    If your Department is forward thinking, you have policies regarding emergency responses..for example...you have the first due piece of apparatus running emergency to the automatic alarm, the rest of the apparatus is running non-emergency.If the first due unit finds a fire condition, upgrade the rest to emergency. The few seconds you save running hot to calls such as these don't justify the increase in the risk that occours the second you cut the lights and siren on. The implementaion of such a policy would allow your department to
    still fall within the guidelines set forth by any applicable state laws, and would reduce the risk to the citizens you are trying to protect, and most importantly reduce the risk to yourself.

  20. #20
    iwood51
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    If you subscibe to the theory/law of lights on siren on you are going to get an even bigger problem when trying to clear traffic. People get accustomed to noises that they hear all the time. I used to work in Manhattan and there ain't nobody that gives a damn about emergency vehicles. They don't give way (vehicles and pedestrians alike) because they hear them all the time. Most folk will look up and see what is making the noise, but not in midtown Manhattan, because they're accustomed to the noise.
    just my $.02

  21. #21
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    >> Ok, so you stop at intersections and wait in the line of traffic with the lights going and confuse the crap out of people..yes? Sorry, but thats ridiculous.

    I agree, that's absolutely ridiculous.

    >> If the call warrants a reduce speed order, then it doesnt warrant lights or siren use.

    That's right. There's absolutely no reason that I can think of to run things like pump details, washdowns from MVAs, trees down, etc. in emergency mode.

    >> As someone mentioned before and I said earlier, if we are running to a call and we are going emergency mode, the siren might not always be on, but when we approach traffic it comes on.
    >> I do not run sirens in rural areas with little traffic.

    See, in PA, the vehicle code gives you a clear choice. Either:

    1. You can run in emergency mode, with the extra privledges granted an emergency vehicle, in which case you must "utilize all audible and visual warning devices".

    2. You can travel normal flow of traffic, in which case you have no privledges afforded an emergency vehicle (OK, you can park illegally when you get there, usually).

    That's it. All or nothing. There's no allowance for lights but no siren, siren but no lights, siren only at intersections, or anything else. Pretty straightforward.

    >> Most calls answered at night can be done in a no lights and sirens mode.

    Night and day have nothing to do with it, at least in PA.

    >> Its wonderful that everyone sticks to the "if the lights are on the siren is on" theory...not realistic. Thats more often than not the wacker justification, for the boys who like to play.

    Not so..."if the lights are on the siren is on" is not theory in PA, it's the law, at least when you're moving.

    >> What will you tell the lawyer when your on the stand and he asks "were all your warning devices in operation at the time of the accident"

    That's a valid question, and I can tell you from experience that it comes up long before that. I was riding officer when our Ladder was involved in a fender-bender while responding a few weeks ago. I won't go into details, except to say that one of the earliest questions the cops asked us was "Were you using your lights & sirens?", and one of the earliest questions they asked the witnesses was "Did you see them and hear them coming?". It matters.

    Also, to those who favor the "sirens at intersections" approach, have you ever had someone nearly back out of a driveway in front of you? Or maybe out of a parking space? How about kids playing in the street? There are potentially plenty of people to warn and hazards to encounter in the middle of blocks, too, not just at intersections.

    One more question to think about...how many of your departments have actually checked to see whether your procedures are in accordance with your state's law? If you have, good for you. If you haven't, maybe you should.


    As for house sirens, we still use ours 24x7x52, even though we are all equipped with pagers. It helps to alert the public that there's a response in progress before apparatus are even on the street and it satisfies the general public's nosiness about when things are happening. We've gotten more complaints in the past when the house siren was OOS than when it's been in use.

  22. #22
    M G
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Bob,

    I appreciate your opinions, and agree with most of your points. All I have to ask you is do you turn the siren on as you exit the bay and leave it on until you arrive so it is running nonstop? I know your point and NJ laws are the same, however, I see it more from a realistic standpoint. I know about vehicles pulling out of driveways and all that, gotta keep the eyes peeled for stuff like that. My point about at night is simply that calls answered at night are often answered in light to no traffic conditions, and where we would need to respond emergency mode in the day to move through standstill traffic, at night you can drive normally and make good time. Its really dependent on your SOP and officers / operators discretion.

    ------------------
    The information presented herin is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

    [This message has been edited by M G (edited August 03, 2000).]

  23. #23
    Kevin Bacco
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I, like Bob, live in PA so there is no inbetween. When you live in a small community the most exciting thin is usually an emergency. So whether it's 3am or 3pm people are usually coming to see what's going on. Kids love to run out from between parked cars and now are even ballsy enough to run across the street in front of us.
    The type of call warrants the use of emergency warning devices (silent responce - we were doing it long before St. Louis recieved national recognition for it). If we must use audible warning devices at 3am, we usually will use the electric siren, as to not wake EVERYBODY but if needed the Federal Q2 can also be utilzed.

    As far as the alerting siren, we all carry pagers and we have train horns (Pitcairn used to be a railroad mecca) that blast the # of the Gamewell pullbox, and a siren both in different locations. A small % of the residents do complain, but if you approach them on a 1 to 1 basis, you can usually explain why they are needed.

    ------------------
    Kevin Bacco
    Pitcairn Fire Department
    Station 230

  24. #24
    20-40
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Our house siren still runs all the time, day and night. Everybody carries pagers, but as has been said before, even in the middle of the night, it's an effective method of notifying the public (And in our case, the bar across the street from our station) that something is happening and to be on the lookout for POV's & emergency vehicles. As for sirens and lights on appartus, there are very few cases when Code 1 should be run (Flooding calls, possibly trees down, etc.) but for the majority of calls, Code 3 should be run, lights, sirens, bells, whistles, and whatever else, reguardless of the time. There are ways around disturbing the sleeping public, however. For example, one of our engines has both a Federal Q aand and electronic siren. In my experience, it's much easier to sleep through an electronic siren then a Fed Q. But as laws state, if lights are on, an audible alert must be present. Just tonight I almost ran into a sheriff's deputy car because of the fact that he was running lights only. I was traveling on a two lane road with a turning lane, and a car was coming towards me as I was getting into the turneing lane (This is on a straight stretch no where near an intersection). The cars lights were fairly bright, and I didn't think much of it as I started merging into the turning lane. Out ouf the blue comes the sheriff's car speeding & running lights, and almost hitting me because I didn't see him and couldn't hear him. There are always going to be those types of unforsseen situations, which is why laws should always be followed and the number one rule of anything be obeyed: Cover Your @ss.

  25. #25
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    >> All I have to ask you is do you turn the siren on as you exit the bay and leave it on until you arrive so it is running nonstop?

    If I'm running an emergency response, the electronic goes on as I pull out, and goes off as I arrive on location. Air horns are for approaching intersections, and the Q2B is for making a point, whether it be approaching an intersection (when I always use it), behind someone who isn't pulling over, or a reaction to a possibly inattentive person anywhere along the way.


    >> My point about at night is simply that calls answered at night are often answered in light to no traffic conditions, and where we would need to respond emergency mode in the day to move through standstill traffic, at night you can drive normally and make good time.

    I don't dispute that, but as long as judgements on liability are going to be made based on the statute in effect, I'm going to follow it. I'm not going to get caught sitting in a witness box after a fire fatality trying to explain that I got there just as quickly without lights & sirens, but I just didn't want to wake the neighbors. I'm not going to have accident liability hung on me by the lawyer of some DUI that might hit me some night because I gave the drunken idiot the excuse that I wasn't properly operating my emergency vehicle. Let's face it...juries, on average, are stupid, and I'm not trusting one to be able to understand the subtleties of one of these types of situations.

    I'm playing the hand that the legislature has dealt me, and that means that emergency responses get lights & siren, regardless of time of day, weather conditions, whether I intend to stop dead at every intersection regardless of what I see or not, or whatever other conditions you want to put on it. And...if that means waking the neighbors, then so be it. The legislature did it, and I'm perfectly comfortable explaining the vehicle code to the neighbors if they complain.

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