1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Charlotte, NC

    Default Electronic "Q" Siren

    We are preparing a presentation to convince our Chief and maintenance department as to the benefit of "Q" sirens. In the past, the maintenance division had told the Chief not to allow them because of the draw on the electrical system that was characteristic of the old mechanical Q's. Does anyone have any information on this that would benefit us? We are looking for information supporting placing a Q on the trucks, and then information supporting the theory that the new electronic Q's are not causing electrical problems with the trucks. Any information would be appreciated.

    Mike Clumpner
    IAFF L-668

  2. #2
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    25 NW of the GW

    Default Electronic Vs Mechanical

    After a short visit to the Federal website, I found the following:

    The mechanical Federal Q2B siren, operates at 12 Volts, drawing up to 100 amps.

    The new EQ2B, electronic version operates at 12 Volts, drawing 30 amps.

    A Federal model PA300, in comparison, operates on 12 Volts and draws 20 amps maximum.

    A vast difference in amperage....from mechanical to electronic. Seems to me, the EQ2B wouldn't put much more of a strain on the electrical system. I have no experience with the new electronic version, however, we all know that the old Q2B's are definitely heard!

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Jun 2000


    There is NO substitute for the original. It is MUCH less expensive($1,500 as compared to $4,000. The amperage problem can be countered by ordering a more heavy duty alternator or, my personal favorite, when ordering new apparatus, spec them with LED lighting systems. They draw signifigantly less amperage and are more effective than strobes.

    I have used and heard the "Electronic" federal. It is nowhere near as effective as the original. It sounds like your boiling a cow in vat when it winds down and it seems to lose a lot of its effectiveness for most of its tone increase and decrease periods. For grins, at least on the Whelen siren, you even get this queer little bell tone that makes you sound like an ice cream truck for cryin' out loud.

    The other personal bias I have with the unit is that the speaker is a huge monster of a thing about 9 inches tall and a foot wide that takes up half of the bumper of the truck.

    The distance from which the siren can be heard is diminished as well. It also takes longer to determine that the siren is a siren and as stated by NJFFS, at least everyone knows that a federal means a piece fo fire apparatus is coming. It just doesn't seem worth it.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

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  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001


    If someone quoted you 4K for an eQ they must have been setting you up to buy some swamp land.

    No nothing sounds exactly like the original Q, but they are huge amp pigs. and you can't put but so much alternater on a rig.

    They Whelen version doesn't sound bad. We did a non scientific test with the whelen eQ and a real Q the people 5 blocks away said they could not tell the differance

  5. #5
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Chester County, PA


    Personally, I have used both the original Q as well as the electric version. Although I do agree that it sounds awful when it winds down, I still think the eQ is an acceptable replacement. All of our engines have the original Q, and an EMS agency I work for has the eQ on their Freightliner ambulances. Regardless of whether I am using the electric or the mechanical, traffic still moves the same. And as far as there being a huge speaker for the electric one, our ambulance doesn't have the extended bumper like an engine does, and to be honest, I have never seen the eQ siren. I am assuming that it is recessed back behind the grill or bumper somewhere.

    Basically it comes down to looking at your options. If it is a choice of the mechanical vs the electronic; then go w/ mechanical. If it is a choice between eQ vs your typical welp/yelp siren; go with the eQ. Either way you will get a great Q-type sound that everyone in the service knows and loves
    Eric Nowaczyk
    East Whiteland Fire Co.
    1st EMS Lt.

    These thoughts are mine and in no way reflect those of the fire/EMS agencies with which I am affiliated.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    apatrol's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Houston, TX


    Led's are more effective at night but suck during the day...Or Q causes an obvious dip in power and it runs off a heavy duty alternator on a 500+ horse diesel... However our load manager will automatically shut off items if they are not drawing the correct current/amps... New modern apparatus should be able to run a Q and full NFPA light assembly with no problems...

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    IAFFJAKE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    My department has been putting Electronic Q's or similar equivalents on our apparatus for the past 2 years and the guys love them. They have a great sound, and draw a lot less amperage than the Old Mechanical Q's.
    "If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the Gods to honour the men who make it their professional business to put it out?"

  8. #8
    FH Mag/.com Contributor

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Cypress, TX


    Regardless of whether I am using the electric or the mechanical, traffic still moves the same.
    EFWC47: Would that be not at all? I used to drive Bucks L79. 80,000lbs, red, shiny, bright lights, mechnical Q, siren, and air horns blaring. Didn't matter. People still think they saw a sign on the front that said "Pull out in front of me." Nothing like Philly people that escaped from city limits.

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Puget Sound

    Default eQ2b video

    The following webpage has a video from inside the cab of a Chicago Fire Department truck company with an eQ2b while it is responding to a call. The video is titled "bird's eye view," so play it and judge for yourself how the siren sounds.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Default Q vs. eQ

    I have only been specing and working on fire apparatus for a short 33 years, so have limited knowledge on performances of sirens. Our agency chooses to install redundant sirens on all apparatus. The primary siren is the Federal Q electromechanical siren known to the firefighters as the "coffee grinder" or the "growler". It does draw some impressive amounts of current. Especially at lower voltages and in freezing temps. Recorded and documented graphed readouts show up to 450 amps breakaway and 100 amps during runup. This has been a problem with some apparatus and usually due to the installation of the electrical supply wiring path. With these years of experience, we noted early on when computerized apparatus arrived, that if you used at least two of the 8D batteries or 6 of the group 31 batteries, in parallel, you would have no computer problems if you did a home run with the power supply cables. Never take power from the cab circuits. Many manufacturers did and the Q came up with a bad rap. With this plan in effect, we have never has so much as a hint of computer failures due to the Q.

    Now, the eQ. I will gladly sell you 2 eQ sirens for $4000 and I will then be able to retire if everyone bought the eQ from me at that price. I pay in the neighborhood of $1600-1800 depending on options. I do not use the huge siren speaker that looks like the Q head. It serves no functional purpose other than visual likeness to the Q. I use the flat panel, behind the bumper 200W eQ speaker option. When first tested at our facility, townsfolk called 911 wanting to know why the air raid/civil defense siren had been actuated. The unit is LOUD. And sounds very much like the Q. It even has a siren brake. While no siren is exactly like a Q, the eQ is close and well worth the cost when you factor in the fact that you get most of the effect of the Q AND get a PA system with it. Almost like getting two for one. The reason for our use of redundant sirens is that in the unlikely event of a siren failure, the apparatus operator can continue to operate the unit until it is more convenient to get repairs completed. No need to remove the unit from immediate service. It has paid off for us many times. Even the Q fails from time to time.

    Most of our units run multiple calls per day and the sirens get a real workout. We are happy with the Q and the eQ.

    Respectfully submitted,

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