View Poll Results: Should the custom of the fire whistle sounding for a call continue in small towns?

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Thread: fire whistle

  1. #1
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    Question fire whistle

    I live in a small village that is considered a summer resort town. Currently and for many years we have a fire whistle that sounds on the fire department building when there is a call. The whistle also blows at noon and 6. This is the standard in our county and all departments have one or two of these sirens.
    Recently a city dweller moved into our village and want to change the small town customs. He owns a bed and breakfast and says the alarm frightens his guest at night. Now he has gone to the city council to request the siren be silenced.
    In there argument he states that there are no other towns across the US that does this except the towns in Sanilac County and the custom has to end. Mind you this weathly business man has influential power in our small town council eyes.
    I am looking to prove him wrong at an upcoming council meeting and show him there are other small town America's still out there. Please respond to this post with your general location so I can print them off. Thank you I feel that if city people do not like the small town customs they are free to relocate back into the city. Thank you for your assistance
    Christine Sharon
    Lexington Fire Department
    Lexington , Michigan

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    Smile Use it during the day

    We have always had the siren blow at noon and 6 p.m. It now has a clock timer but at one time was set off by the local telephone operators. It is mounted on the water tower with a remote switch at the fire station. It is used during daylight hours for fire calls, not at night anymore since their are pagers. It is not used for medical first response calls. Most of the departments in my area have the same policy. (southwest michigan)

    For fire calls, one pull of the handle at the station runs it up and down three times. There is also a switch which allows it to be used for a three minute steady tone for a tornado warning.

    I am responsible for setting the clock, daylight savings time, etc. The only complaints we get are when it doesn't work or when the time is off. I have to reset the time about every three months.

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    We are in a similar situation. When we hit out for a box assignment from the vol. dept. we also activate our "klaxon" which is a loud airhorn basicly. Of course a bed & breakfast owner has to complain, but the truth of the matter is I can't count how many times after a call the vollies come in and make statements as to how they were cutting the grass and heard the horn. I think the best thing to do is if council starts to listen to this guy just have your members speak up, they should get the point.

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    lexffs -

    Off subject... I used to camp up in part of the state - is Whimpy Burger still downtown?
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    Is this the only notification of a call? or are you issued pagers to notify of a run?
    Ryan

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    Default fire whistle

    We also have Minitor pagers. Unfortunately we encounter frequent communication problems living on the water and we have areas where the radio transmission does not reach. Our system needs to be updated but Mileage has not passed to do so. 80% of the time the pager activates the alarm not only is a custom but a great back up for when our pagers are not tripped.

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    Default Re: fire whistle

    Originally posted by lexffs
    We also have Minitor pagers. Unfortunately we encounter frequent communication problems living on the water and we have areas where the radio transmission does not reach. Our system needs to be updated but Mileage has not passed to do so. 80% of the time the pager activates the alarm not only is a custom but a great back up for when our pagers are not tripped.
    If I were you I would bring that up at the meeting.
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    Default fire whistle

    Whimpy's hamburger and A&W are the closest to fast food this small town has and it is great.

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    Default fire whistle

    good idea, pass the mileage for update communications in our county and we will shut the whistle off at night.

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    Default Siren activation

    I am in a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland. Our siren (5 locations through out town) sounds for all fire calls and MVA's. Also sounds on meeting night and drill night at 1900 hrs, one each a month.

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    I live in a small town in north central CT. We have two FD's.

    Our siren blows at noon and at each call. Through accidental trial and error, we've discovered we actually need the siren to get many of our people to come to the firehouse.

    The other FD in town also has a siren on top of their firehouse (actually, it's a fog horn now).

    Other FDs near me:

    The Enfield, CT FD had a siren on top of one of their stations until it broke. They are looking to replace it.

    I think the Hazardville FD (also in Enfield) might have a siren.

    Both the Blue Hills and Bloomfield Center FDs in Bloomfield, CT have sirens.

    I believe the Windsor Locks FD has one.


    Needless to say, there are many FDs in this area who have and use sirens.
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    Default Re: Re: fire whistle

    Originally posted by backdraft663


    If I were you I would bring that up at the meeting.

    Backdraft, we have the same problem in my town. Our problem isn't because of the shore, but because of the rolling hills of CT.

    Geography plays a big role in pager performance.
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    Springfield VT -- Loud deep horn for call all fire runs.

    Bromley Mtn Area (VT) -- Loud deep horn at noon, also for runs.

    Barre (CITY!) VT -- Whistle, manually tested occasionally, currently not hooked up for automatic use, used as a backup.

    That's three that I know of in Vermont, I believe Charlestown, New Hampshire also uses an air horn system similar to Springfield.

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    Add Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant, Brielle, Manasquan, Bay Head, Mantoloking to the list. These are the towns around me in New Jersey that still have horns/sirens in use. No more 12 o'clock horns, but they sound for all fire calls during the day time. Most of them have done away with the horn at night for certain types of calls (wires down, alarm activation in SFD, etc.) EMS squads also have their own siren that sounds for calls. We also have pagers but do not rely on them alone.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Here in Crawford Co. PA there are there are 27 Volly Depts. that have at least 1 siren usually located at their station. we have 2 sirens one at the station and one located about 2 miles away at the other end of our first due. there are alot of depts. over this way that the Cr. Co. 911 dispatches that all have sirens at their stations, if you would like that list which there is 40 depts, i could fax it to ya because im not going to list'em all Good luck fighting the city bigwig
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    Just about every neighbor to us, including us have a siren.

    It does not go off at noon or 6, but does go off for all calls. And we have a switch for it too.

    Personally I know it is a good thing because I can thing of several calls during the summer when people were outisde and didnt have their pager on for one reason or another. They heard the whistle and responded, which is important because just like most rural dept.'s we dont always have the best number of people.
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    The siren still sounds everytime the tones are activated in every city/small town in this county.

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    We have 2 siren systems. One old siren located next to downtown blows at noon, 6, and 10 PM. It was put in during World War 2. It was also used for weather alerts and fires up until this past year. The other system is 4 siren out in the neighborhoods used for all weather alerts, fire meetings, and fire calls. We do not blow them for call after 10 PM unless there is a special need to alert people to be aware volunteers are trying to get to the fire hall and/ or call. Some celebrations, like the ,4th of July, where there are a large number of people on the streets until late, the sirens are blown later than 10 PM.

    All of the towns around us still have sirens. I think most towns in South Dakota still use their sirens if they have volunteer firefighters. A few years ago some people petitioned our city council to stop blowing the sirens except during weather alerts. Fire and EMS are paged out so the sirens are not required. After a couple of months some of the older people start to complain about missing the sirens so they went to the council. There was support from all ages so the sirens were brought back on line. Now if anyone complains about the sirens they are told they have 2 choices, live with them or move.

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    We have never used our siren for calls. We have had pagers since the late 1970's. I feel with the way technology is that they are pretty much not needed. Most departments have stopped using them altogether or on a limited basis. Of ones I know for fact
    Pemberville-noon tests daily.............only activated for fires
    Perrysburg City-noon tests daily.........only acitvated for large incidents
    Oregon- for every call between 6 or 7 am until 11 pm
    Northwood- no longer used
    Perrysburg Twp- no longer used
    Lake Twp FD- cycle on all calls for 1 minute I think
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    Oh yea forgot this little tid bit... the other Volly station i ran with before i moved had a siren and it was struck by lighting one night and of course trashed it, we had priced a new one but, everybody had the minitors but, again we have hilly area as well...we decided not to buy a new one nor get this one fixed. One day one of the neighbors asked if we were still running calls cause he hadnt herd the siren go off in a long time so we told him what had happened and it would cost a nice chunk of change to replace...next thing ya know he sends us a donation towards a new siren...then more started coming in, apparently this neighbor spread the word...the towns people wanted that siren back so we bought a new one. just more food for thought for ya

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    Our siren in town still rings at noon and 6pm, up until 1992 about? someone would still set it off for fire calls, but with the upgrades in our radio system, we have gotten away from using it for fire calls. if that system is the best you got then you need to keep it unless your city or fd can afford a new alert system or better pagers and radios.

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    I can name 60 something towns in Bergen County, NJ....that still use municipal warning sirens. Add to that...Passaic County, Morris County, Sussex County......there are hundreds of municipalities that combine sirens with pagers, to alert the FF's.

    It is hardly a thing of the past. In fact, the use of outdoor warning sirens has taken on new interest...as a means of alerting the public to dangers. That includes HazMat evacuations, terrorist acts, floods, severe weather...and so on.

    Reverse 911 can only warn those near a phone. Municipal sirens can warn those people outdoors.

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    i lived in morris county, NJ until 1992, and i can still remember our town whistle going off at 5pm every day and for fire calls. i don't know if they still do it though. the company i was with when i was in college in PA had one, but only ran it for big incidents, but the some of hte mutual aid towns near the river has whistles cause of the problems with geography others have mentioned.

    here in MD, we had a siren that would go off for occasional tests, and for box alarms taht we were due at. i can't remember if it went off at night though. it was mostly for tradition, since all our vollie members either sleep in, or are issued alpha-numeric or minotar pagers that will go off in the case of an alarm, so they know to come in, and we are no longer the tallest building in town. last year, the city council made us shut it down because a new apt complex went up right across the street from us, and they said they would be bothered by it. but, the area my station is in is primarily business these days, so no one noticed it anyway. personally, i miss it, and i miss hearing the siren when i was a kid.

    i know that many companies in rural PA still ahve the alarms, and in some of those places, i believe it might be still mandated that no building be higher than the fire house.
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    Thumbs up

    Although I work and live in the city...I know for a fact that there are countless volly FDs on Long Island and Upstate counties(Rockland, Orange, Westchester etc.) from NYC that still use sirens. Also many in Jersey still use them as well.

    Your community is certianly not the only one using them.

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    Last edited by FFFRED; 06-09-2004 at 12:27 PM.

  25. #25
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    Siren is used:
    Noontime, 1 round test Mon-Sat
    Plus 3 minute cycles for Fires & MVAs 8am-10pm, and during rare times (like every 5 years or so...) when the dispatch center is having major problems with the tower closest to our town.

    There is no reason in this day & age to continue using sirens or other loud, audible alarms for anything but a backup system.

    If you don't have good pager coverage, tell the town this is how much $$$ you need to fix the coverage, and by the way that's a really good idea even if no one's complaining about the noise right now. Imagine that, reliable pagers...

    If your members can't hear a Minitor over their lawnmower, tell them to wear hearing protectors -- they're damaging their hearing operating equipment like that without ear muffs, and with the muffs in place most people can hear the pager.

    If you think you need to warn the public that firefighters are racing to the station...fire your firefighters and replace them with people who can drive responsible.

    If your members don't want to wear pagers or keep them handy, that's there problem, not the whole community's.

    No community of any size should a) be disturbed by sirens and b) have to rely on having people hearing a siren.

    Backup system in case the pagers fail? Fine with me. Anything else is just useless anachronysm.
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