1. #1
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    Default Fire Sirens-Volunteer FD's

    Dear Friends and Associates,

    The politicians that have moved here from the big city, and just do not understand how a volunteer fire department works (no matter how much we explain it!) now want to do away with our fire siren. We feel that it is a vital part of our emergency notification system, in addition to our pagers, due to the fact that given the low staffing numbers during the day; we need every body we can muster! Virtually every member surveyed stated that they would have missed a daytime response during the last year had it not been for the siren. Reasons varied from mowing the lawn, pager left in the vehicle, to dead batteries in the pager.



    If you guys still use a siren in your community, or if you have any knowledge of any other city/town around the area or state that uses a siren system, and can give me some details, it would be appreciated! What I (and the council) am looking for is:

    Approximate size/population of city/town

    How is siren used? All calls? Selective Calls?

    Is siren used 24/7 or selective hours?

    Please reply directly to my email at: firechief@san-juan-bautista.ca.us

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    Quote Originally Posted by racokley
    Dear Friends and Associates,

    The politicians that have moved here from the big city, and just do not understand how a volunteer fire department works (no matter how much we explain it!) now want to do away with our fire siren. We feel that it is a vital part of our emergency notification system, in addition to our pagers, due to the fact that given the low staffing numbers during the day; we need every body we can muster! Virtually every member surveyed stated that they would have missed a daytime response during the last year had it not been for the siren. Reasons varied from mowing the lawn, pager left in the vehicle, to dead batteries in the pager.



    If you guys still use a siren in your community, or if you have any knowledge of any other city/town around the area or state that uses a siren system, and can give me some details, it would be appreciated! What I (and the council) am looking for is:

    Approximate size/population of city/town

    How is siren used? All calls? Selective Calls?

    Is siren used 24/7 or selective hours?

    Please reply directly to my email at: firechief@san-juan-bautista.ca.us
    I will reply here just in case others have similar questions and need answers.

    Our town is approximately 1500 people. The siren is used for all calls.

    The siren is used from around 9am to 10pm at night. (Not exactly sure of the starting time). After 10pm the siren will not sound.
    EMT-B
    Garfield Twp. Fire Department
    http://www.garfieldfire.com

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    Malahat VFD has had a siren since its inception. I too would have missed calls if it werent for it going off. We occasionally had problems where the pager system went down, and didnt trigger off, or sometimes being in the wrong spot, and no signal reception.

    Keep up the fight. Our answer to having the siren is that we teach the kids to GET OFF the road when the siren goes. They learn that, and it sticks.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    The department where I grew up had, and still has, a siren. It is a big part of the town and there is a lot of tradition there. It was how I knew it was time for Lunch/Dinner based on the noon/6pm test.

    Found this that has some good information on why to keep a siren. Hope it helps, keep fighting.

    Stay Safe

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    - Approximate size/population of city/town
    1.5 sq miles, ~8000 full time residents, ~25,000 visitors in summer.

    - How is siren used? All calls? Selective Calls?
    - Is siren used 24/7 or selective hours?
    From 7am to 11pm, siren sounds for all calls. From 11pm to 7am sounds for calls that normally require more manpower (structure fires, alarm activations in multiple dwellings, etc.)

    I just answered a call about 3.5 hours ago because I heard the siren. So did the guy working in the lumber yard, so did the guy that was out walking his dog.

    For us, it still serves a purpose. For others, it may not.
    "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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    People here mostly know my opinion

    Keep it as a backup system. Backup means you use it when your primary system fails.

    If your radio system can't reliably trip pagers in your area, then you present the numbers to the politicians of what it will cost to fix it.

    Using arguments that you drive so irresponsibly you have to warn the public off the roads, or members "forget" or find it inconvienent to carry pagers sure doesn't project a very positive image of how your firefighters take their responsibilities.

    IMHO, pick your battle carefully. Is it reasonable to spend time making yourselves look foolish arguing to use it 24x7 for everything, or is it time to relegate it to weekly / daily tests at a designated time, and use if there is a problem with the primary system?

    ========
    BTW -- my town is 7,500. Sirens in town down to 2 from 4 15 years ago; used 8am-10pm for MVAs & Fires.

    The 8-10 rule was adopted proactively about 10 years ago when far busier fire companies in our area where making themselves look like fools in the newspaper arguing why they needed to sound the siren for 3 minutes for every call, including the 400 or so medicals a year they where then running. Chief at the time basically said, "You know, before anyone complains..." and we cut back on the usage. IMHO, it could go down even further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Using arguments that you drive so irresponsibly you have to warn the public off the roads, or members "forget" or find it inconvienent to carry pagers sure doesn't project a very positive image of how your firefighters take their responsibilities.

    IMHO, pick your battle carefully. Is it reasonable to spend time making yourselves look foolish arguing to use it 24x7 for everything, or is it time to relegate it to weekly / daily tests at a designated time, and use if there is a problem with the primary system?

    .
    That's kind of what I was thinking....we, too, have a siren, but it is no longer used, although still functional. And yes, years ago it was the only means of alerting members. If you truly, for budget reasons or whatever, cannot provide all your members with a pager and the siren is one of your primary means of alerting, then maybe you have a case. But if you have members relying on the siren because they can't be bothered to keep the pager on them or keep it charged, well, I think you have other problems to deal with.

    Discontinue the use of the siren. The members will very quickly realize their "crutch" is gone and once they miss a couple of calls they'll be more responsible about carrying their pagers.

    I'm with Dal on this one....keep it for a backup, or at least be willing to accept some compromise (maybe just during weekdays, or just for "big" calls like structure fires, or something along those lines).

    Consider this also...sometimes if you let the whole community know there's an emergency, some folks have a tendency to "Let's go ride and see what's happening". You don't need that. Only the fire department needs to know where it's going.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    My dept. still uses the siren for all calls 24/7. I do not agree with the 24/7 idea. I do feel it is needed if your station is next to or close to a buisness such as a gas station. It just gives the public a heads up to be aware that there is going to be emergency vehicles on the roadway. Not because we all drive like maniacs. As far as calling someone irresponsible for not haveing there pager on them goes, You Dalmation should not judge. If I am going out on the town for the evening I do not take my pager , but when I am leaving my home I will reponde if I hear the wistle. I am just saying dont lable people if you dont know what there reasoning is.
    Stay Safe and live long

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    We had one but got rid of it about 10 years ago or better. At one time it was the only means of notification. Then we all got pagers and didn't need the siren.

    It created more confusion for traffic. They thought they were pulling over for an emergency vehicle and when they didn't see any they would pull back into traffic, usually just in time for a real emergency vehicle to be coming up thier backside. Plus so many people were complaining about it going off all the time too. We downgraded it to a back up system but then eventually got rid of it.

    I guess it is to what each community wants and how they are set up. I personally think the idea is neat and part of tradition. But if it just isn't practical then it needs to go. The biggest argument to keep the siren is that the pagers don't work all the time. 99.8% of the time it is operator error by not charging, not having it on them, not listening, breaking it, etc. I heard one person talk of dead spots in the radio system. For us it is not a problem. It's hard to have a dead spot in a 100 watt repeated frequency in a 4.6 square mile area! This may not always be the case with everyone else. We really didn't have an arguement to keep it other than it sounded cool.

    Don't let tradition stand in the way of progress.
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    We have one that still sounds at noon every day as more of a tradition than anything else (and that was primarily called for by the public), but its not used for calls ever. In fact, I don't think it can be manually activated from the station anymore, and regardless, our dispatch center is about 7 miles away.

    Honestly, I can barely hear it where I live, and only when I'm outside and its quiet. Unless you're downtown, its not very audible.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    When they come up with a water proof pager that i can carry while swimming in the ocean, I'll shut the siren off.

    Consider this also...sometimes if you let the whole community know there's an emergency, some folks have a tendency to "Let's go ride and see what's happening". You don't need that. Only the fire department needs to know where it's going.
    In discussions with the public over the use of the siren, a very opposite statement was made by the public. By hearing the siren, they knew there was an emergency and their emergency responders were helping someone. We went for a stretch where the siren system was down, we had people asking why we weren't answering any calls lately. We had to explain that we still do, just they don't know.

    Anytime we have had anyone ask about the siren, we explain what it's used for and why we continue it. With very few exceptions, people are fine with that. It just takes getting out and talking with the public.
    "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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    Every volunteer department in my area has a siren and it is used for ALL CALLS and all through day/night...with the area we are in the siren is a must....you cannot expect the pager to go off everytime in our department even with our base radio having a repeater....I am just down the road from the fire station and sometimes I don't hear anything until the siren goes off...if they are looking to get rid of the siren...THEY'RE NUTS!!!

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    we lost our siren years ago and I miss it. Pagers are only as smart as the person trying to page you. With the dispatchers we have now I honestly believe we would be better off with them pushing a door bell switch that says FIRE. and then we can get directions when we get to the station.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireAndy

    Our town is approximately 1500 people. The siren is used for all calls.

    The siren is used from around 9am to 10pm at night. (Not exactly sure of the starting time). After 10pm the siren will not sound.
    So- No calls between 10 pm and 9 am?

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    I can give you a bunch, some each way:

    Cedar Top: one of three stations in a township of 14,000 people scattered over about 21 square miles; eliminted the siren in the early '80s, and don't miss it a bit.

    Grill: another of these three stations; uses a siren 8 am to 10 pm for everything

    Gouglersville: third of these stations; uses a siren 24/7 for everything

    Mohnton: station in a 1.25 square mile town of 2,800 people; uses a siren 24/7 for everything

    Shillington: station in a 2 square mile town of 5,000 people; eliminted the siren in the early '80s, and don't miss it a bit.

    Kenhorst: station in a 1 square mile town of 2,500 people; hasn't used a siren since the '70s, and doesn't seem to miss it.

    Brecknock: station in a township of 5,000 people scattered over about 16 quare miles; uses a siren 24/7 for everything

    I tend to agree with Dal190 on this one...good backup, but not necessary in most cases. Of these seven stations, only Brecknock really needs a house siren. They're in a poor radio reception area and part of their population is Amish (no electricity = no pagers), so they have a need. As for the rest, the siren is a waste of electricity, IMHO.

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    I live in a town of about 1,000...our siren goes off for all fire alarms or other calls between 8am and 8pm that may require a significant amount of manpower (MVA's etc) it DOES NOT sound for routine EMS alrams.

    It also blows everyday at noon and 6pm (except Sundays). For new residents in town, or visitors, this proves startling, but I have never heard anyone complain about it.
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    Ours used to play a short "tune" at 12 everday. Then the timer fried and we did not fix it. Got quite a few complaints about it not going off at 12 anymore.
    "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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    Ours used to play a short "tune" at 12 everday. Then the timer fried and we did not fix it. Got quite a few complaints about it not going off at 12 anymore.

    All our sirens (region wide) are controlled via the dispatch center.

    Well, the town north of us hasn't used a siren since the 80s(?)...wired the controller to unlock the doors & turn on the lights at their station instead when their "siren" code is transmitted.

    Anyway back to central control...the siren tests are tripped by the dispatcher. Most departments do it at noon daily, although there's a few variations. One 15 second "round".

    Many years back, I'm eating lunch at the station and the new dispatcher punched in the wrong code, sending every siren in a then 12 town region -- 36 departments and probably a good 50+ sirens back then -- into their full 3 minute long fire cycles...

    Talk about some radio traffic being generated by officers throughout the valley signing on and asking what their call was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    In discussions with the public over the use of the siren, a very opposite statement was made by the public. By hearing the siren, they knew there was an emergency and their emergency responders were helping someone. We went for a stretch where the siren system was down, we had people asking why we weren't answering any calls lately. We had to explain that we still do, just they don't know.

    .
    I'm glad you have a public that is not overly nosy. We don't have that luxury....It's like that in a small town, everybody wants to be the one who knows what's going on.. "Yeah, I was there, I saw it, it was gruesome/awesome/whatever".....

    Now, if you have poor coverage in your area and the pager coverage is spotty, I suppose that would be another reason to maintain the siren. But IMHO the proper, long-term solution would be to correct the coverage problem.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Our department uses it 24/7 and blows(1 time) at noon each day except Sundays.

    It is used for all fire dispatched calls and it will blow 1 time for an ambulance call that has gone to 3rd call.
    ambulance is initial dispatch (1st call) 3 min. later dispatched again(2nd call) 3 min. later dispatched again (3rd call) then if still no response 2 min. later next due is dispatched and they will still alert original company untill the call is answred.

    Now for the reason we blow at noon. Our area was/still is to extent a huge polutry industry, TONS of chicken farms. And chickens being the lowest form of intelligence know to man, we blow it to condition the birds to the siren and keep them from smothering themselves. Chickens will huddle together when scared and inturn kill themselves either by suffication or over heating.

    Does our deptment still need to use them......... probably not, but I know I would have missed a few alarms during the day when I am outside doing yeard work, playing with the kids etc...

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    Hate to tell ya this, the chickens are too stupid to get used to the noon time test anyways

    (And yes...what he speaks is true, at least to chickens being a bit on the dumb side...we used to be much bigger poultry country up here...you'd turn off your headlights at night going on to properties with old style coops...and you'd advoid siren near the poultry farms with coops by the road because the suckers would panic and suffocate themselves.)

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    we have never used the siren but of course have them in town. We have had pagers since the late 70's. The only time the siren was ever activated fora run was when first switched dispatch centers and due to an antennae snafu only a couple of pagers went off. Most departments here have curtailed its use. Which I agree with, and as for Dal judging about carrying the pager...........if you have no siren then take it with you....what do you think the rest of do ?
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    I never leave without my pager; there is just no reason to. It is small enough that it doesn't get in the way, and can be put on vibrate when it might be a nuisance.
    I get so sick of firefighters, (and we even have an officer who does this) who complain that they missed a call, and you ask them if they heard it...they respond with "no, I left my pager at home, in the truck, in the other room"...etc. Makes me wonder why we provide them with $500 Minitor IV pagers with all the bells and features, when they won't even carry them. They are MADE to clip on your belt/in your pocket, there is no reason not to keep it with you. If you don't want to be involved, then by all means, leave it at home or turn it in, but don't complain that you miss runs when you are too lazy to take 5 seconds and clip the small plastic pager on your belt.

    Sorry for the rant!

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    My volunteer company had a siren years back until the tower was struck by lighting....that did that !! Siren and Tower was dismantled about 15 years ago. -- We rely on those Minitor Devices and it seems to work. We still get about a 75% turn-out for most calls

    I work fulltime for a combination department as well and the siren still functions there when the station is toned. It'll blow one time. If we have a full engine crew in the house it will not blow unless there is a reported structure fire....We're notified by our comm. center by "hot-line" simular to the Bat-Phone found in Wayne Manner. Everything here is on a simulcast system.....By the time ones Minitor Activates the original call has already been dispatched and the siren is already blowing. If it trips due to numerous radio malfunctions in the area through out the last month or so

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    Here in my area which is highly suburbanized, we still rely on sirens as a back-up simply because with the amount of radio signals floating around out there, many times pagers never "trip" because the signal is overpowered by stronger base stations & repeaters. While many are quick to point out that we all have pagers, I can attest to many a time where my dept. activated an alarm & was "stepped on" by the county dispatcher (who has much more transmitting power) toning someone out 10 miles away - had it not been for the siren blowing, I would not have known to respond nor would our dispatcher have known that the members did not get the page. Many a time, I called in to confirm if we had an alarm & advised the dispatcher he might want to retone it (which he did) as he must have been "stepped on" by someone else transmitting.

    I do agree that sirens should be used with discretion - siren policies here vary from blowing it for everything (including ambulance calls & the 2 or 3 subsequent manpower calls that follow), certain durations for fire & ambulance (ambulance = 5 cycles, fire = 8 cycles) or simply just for working fires. There are several depts. in my immediate area that simply blow their siren (actually multiple sirens with different sounds) 24/7 for EVERY alarm - this is where I disagree - if you have a working fire @ 3 AM & need to blow the siren to get everyone's ***** outta bed, well, the public usually can live with that (besides John Q. Public just rolls back over & says "those F@#$IN' firemen with that damn horn", he doesn't have to roll outta bed to crawl down a smoky hallway) but blowing a siren at 4 AM for a BS ambulance call that only requires maybe 5 members (including a chief) out of 100 members to respond is a little extreme.

    Sometimes we have the attitude that hey we're the FD and if you don't like it tough but people have a right to b@#$h when you blow a siren at 4 AM at full volume for TWO full minutes for a band-aid call. Most depts. blow their horn around here from around 7 AM-10/11 PM, then it cuts off completely unless there's a working fire (and that's up to the individual dept.). Most FF's have/had kids so they appreciate their little angels not being woken up at 2 AM by the siren for a guy with an impacted wisdom tooth who needs a cab ride. Plus, with many depts. having call volumes exceeding 2,000 alarms ayear, you'd be deaf in about a week.

    Just my 2 cents...Stay Safe...

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