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    Default Apparatus Air Horns And The Public

    What say you?

    Neighbors fed up with fire sirens, air horns

    Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Living in any city, particularly one as small as San Francisco, comes with its challenges- the loud neighbors, the lack of parking, the graffiti, the panhandlers.

    Then, there are the sirens and air horns.

    If you live near a fire station - and if your home is in San Francisco, the odds are good, because there are 42 stations spread out over 49 square miles - you may have taken these periodic wails and honks as another given nuisance.

    But a large group of citizens in the city's center - the Tenderloin, Polk Street, South of Market and central Market areas - have had enough. Three years ago, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White signed a general work order saying that fire truck air horns should be limited to "high-risk" situations, but neighbors say little has changed and they are leaning on the chief to do more.

    Some of the aggravated neighbors live near Station 3 on Post Street, believed to be the busiest fire station in the nation, with more than 7,000 engine runs every year. The air horns and sirens also tend to ricochet off taller buildings common in the area, amplifying the sound.

    "It drives everybody nuts," said Ron Case, an architect who has lived and worked on the 1000 block of Polk Street for nearly a decade. "It happens six times a day ... if you're having a meeting, you just have to stop until they go by. They start honking the horns at the corner of Post and Polk streets and you have to wait to talk until they pass Geary (Street)".

    At a community meeting last week organized by the Community Leadership Alliance, Hayes-White told a group of neighbors that she would work to mitigate the sound. But she can't stifle the noise entirely, she said Tuesday. Sirens, she said, are used to give people at a distance a warning, but the air horns are necessary to notify cars and pedestrians in a fire truck's path to get out of the way.

    "In the Fire Department it's a delicate balance between being able to perform our mission of protecting lives and property and being a good neighbor," she said.

    Part of the problem, firefighters and neighbors agree, is that the number of emergency calls has increased greatly since 1997, when the Fire Department took the city's paramedic division under its wings. The department now sends a fire engine and ambulance to all 911 calls, unless it is classified from the get-go as a non-emergency medical call. That change increased the yearly calls by the tens of thousands.

    "Maybe we should re-evaluate how we send out fire engines," said John Hanley, president of the local firefighters union. "But if you're sick, you want us there, you're not worried about an air horn."

    Hayes-White agreed, noting that any serious medical emergency needs at least four to six people to respond, not just two or three paramedics. The city has worked with its 911 call center during the past year to better classify the calls so that fewer vehicles can be sent on some runs.

    But every year, Hayes-White said, there more 911 calls than the year before - meaning more sirens and air horns are vexing people like Michael Pedersen.

    Pedersen, who has lived in the Tenderloin for about 10 years, pointed to a 2004 city controller's report that noted that the number of emergency calls is also inflated by false alarms from call boxes and commercial alarms.

    "It's a very inefficient system," he said. "It's mind-boggling the number of calls. We can't have this every 10 or 15 minutes ... You see kids crying, mothers don't know what to do. It's completely wacko, uncivilized."

    Pedersen wants the department to stop using air horns, and other neighbors have asked the department to lower the decibels of the sirens. Neither option seems feasible to firefighters.

    The department's sirens wail at roughly the same decibel level as other jurisdictions, the fire chief said. And the air horns should be used sparingly but cannot be quieted completely, she said.

    To curb the use of horns, Hayes-White said her department and the Municipal Transportation Agency are considering the use of traffic lights that would automatically change to green for emergency vehicles. {Mal note: YA RIGHT. Like the locals respond/react to traffic lights now? }

    Hayes-White, who lives near Stonestown, said she also hears sirens day and night, though she admits that the noise is less jarring and frequent than for Tenderloin residents

    "The takeaway is that we are trying to look at better ways to reduce the adverse impacts," she said. "But there's no way we can totally avoid having sirens and air horns ... it's part of any dense urban setting."

    E-mail Marisa Lagos at mlagos@sfchronicle.com.

    This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 03-26-2008 at 01:23 PM.

  2. #2
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    Un-friggin-believeable.

    Good luck SFFD Brothers!

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    Turn off the sirens. Then turn off the lights, because they are bright and annoying. Respond with traffic patterns. See how the city residents like their 9 minute response times.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Thumbs down Stupid...........

    No different than the yuppies moving to the Boonies, then wanting the VFD to stop using the House siren. I have no faith at all in the SF Chief either. I mean, if someone can't make up their mind on something simple like what their last name is, how the heck can they make a valid decision on anything else. (Yes, I'm a charter member of the National Union to ban Hyphenated Names) Back to the sirens, there are times that I feel obligated to take a turn displaying my militant streak, and this is one. These morons need to understand that they can't have a FD without audible warning devices. Period. If the Chief continues to do stupid things, the local should refuse to allow their members to be endangered by her, and walk out. I gotta go look for a BP Pill, be back later.......
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    People always find something to b**ch about it. It never stops. I'm sure if Mr.Case's house was on fire he wouldn't be complaining about the sirens and horns. Pathetic.


    What I find funny is that this Chief is agreeing with the public saying she will limit use to "high-risk" calls. What a leader she is. Her first and foremost priority should be looking out for her own people and their safety, a leadership principle. Who gives a flying crap if Joe Blow public is ****ed off because the sirens are waking him. Guess what pal, nobody forces you to live by the fire station or in the city.
    Last edited by ndvfdff33; 03-26-2008 at 02:26 PM.
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    There was a touch of sanity, however, in that article.
    Questioning whether ALL EMS calls need an Engine and Rescue (bone box, ambulance, pus bus, penalty box, whatever you call it). For BLS calls, you really only need the Rescue. It is senseless to tie up 2 units for a B(L)S call.

    For ALS calls (Diff. Breathing, Chest Pain, unconscious, unresponsive, diabetic, etc) the send and Engine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ndvfdff33 View Post
    People always find something to b**ch about it. It never stops. I'm sure if Mr.Case's house was on fire he wouldn't be complaining about the sirens and horns. Pathetic.

    No he would be on the news complaining that it took them so long to get there.
    www.firehall.com - check it out

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    Bet these same idiots aren't complaining about cops using their sirens.But then again cops keep us safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic1911 View Post
    But then again cops keep us safe.
    They do???
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    To make it a little better to the people in the neighborhood, our engine captain doesn't use the air horn, which i think is a good idea.

    For some with the air horn it's like giving a toy to a little kid and they go crazy with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post
    For some with the air horn it's like giving a toy to a little kid and they go crazy with it.
    Then they have no buisness with access to it.

    Irons, Halligan hook, lights, sirens, and air horns are TOOLS.

    The people using them shouldn't be as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BLSboy View Post
    Then they have no buisness with access to it.

    Irons, Halligan hook, lights, sirens, and air horns are TOOLS.

    The people using them shouldn't be as well.
    From experiences, hitting that air horn when your behind a line of cars isn't going to get you there any faster, because the guy all the way in the front of the line cant hear/see you. SO why make the people in the three cars ahead of you deaf?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post
    SO why make the people in the three cars ahead of you deaf?
    Because it's fun as ****.

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    Sure go ahead and take away the airhorn. Then JACK UP the cost of the ticket for failure to yield to emergency vehichle to $1,000. See how they like them apples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexxus View Post
    Because it's fun as ****.

    Hopefully that was sarcasm, and not just you exhibiting how obnoxious some people can be...

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    I predict a change in the route of travel.....

    to right up the 1000 block of Polk Street...
    Be safe y'all!
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    Quote Originally Posted by vegas0012 View Post
    Hopefully that was sarcasm, and not just you exhibiting how obnoxious some people can be...
    Because it's fun as ****. If you don't like it, to bad. The equipment was put on the rig for us to use, not just as another piece of chrome that needs cleaned and polished. If you're to scared to blow the horn or stomp the Q because you think it'll upset someone, then grow some balls. It's put there for their protection and ours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexxus View Post
    Because it's fun as ****. If you don't like it, to bad. The equipment was put on the rig for us to use, not just as another piece of chrome that needs cleaned and polished. If you're to scared to blow the horn or stomp the Q because you think it'll upset someone, then grow some balls. It's put there for their protection and ours.
    And your in the fire service why??

    Just because its there doesn't mean you HAVE to use it. Its not there for your protection, the sirens and light are there for your protection, the Q is just a needless piece of equipment that volunteers in towns that get 1 call a month like to go out blasting every time they get a run...

    Think about it...... All you needs to do is enter the intersection SLOWLY( slow is 5-10 mph, not 35 mph) and do some playing with the siren tones and your good to go. No need to kill everybody and be a hero getting there as fast as you can by going 40 mph through an intersection blasting your air horn and useless Q. Thats all for show. Theres no need for it anywhere!!

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    The part of that article I can't wrap my head around is this bit...

    Hayes-White agreed, noting that any serious medical emergency needs at least four to six people to respond, not just two or three paramedics
    Are you kidding me or what? Around these parts, 99% of EMS jobs get a BLS and ALS unit. That's 2 EMT's and 1 Medic, doesn't matter if it's for a paper cut or a GSW. No FD response to run of the mill EMS jobs unless rescue or FD intervention is required. Patient care does NOT suffer even though we have "only" 1 Medic and 2 EMT's, so how in the hell do you figure that 3 Paramedics aren't sufficient, and you need to double that response?!? Absurd. What a waste of not just tax dollars, but of resources. Putting an engine or truck on a BS EMS box just takes them away from what they should be doing, FIREFIGHTING. It also imposes a tremendous wear and tear factor on the apparatus.

    As for the people bitching and whining over sirens and horns...GET OVER IT. If it was you or your loved ones on the other end of that response, the sounds of those sirens and horns are the sweetest music you have ever heard in your entire life, guaranteed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post

    the Q is just a needless piece of equipment that volunteers in towns that get 1 call a month like to go out blasting every time they get a run...
    Honestly why do you have to start bashing volunteers for no reason?
    And if for some reason if you don't think airhorns should be used anymore anywhere then you should take a look on almost any road or any intersection and see how many people aren't paying attention. Sirens work great, but I've seen more than once a driver who for some unknown reason can't hear our sirens or see our lights. One quick yank on the air horn chain and guess what, they snap back to reality and get out of our way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexxus View Post
    Because it's fun as ****. If you don't like it, to bad. The equipment was put on the rig for us to use, not just as another piece of chrome that needs cleaned and polished. If you're to scared to blow the horn or stomp the Q because you think it'll upset someone, then grow some balls. It's put there for their protection and ours.
    There is a HUGE difference between using a tool (see Q siren, air horn, etc.) as necessary for both ours and the public's safety and "because it's fun as ****."

    I'm all for Q's and Airhorns on apparatus when used as the situation dictates. However, I wouldn't call it "fun as ****" to unnecessarily lay on the air horn when traffic merely needs a few seconds to get out of the way.

    Essentially, you sound like the type of guy who loves to pull out of the bay with the Q all wound up for a "sick call" at 3am with almost no traffic...b/c it may be "fun."

    Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JR3115 View Post
    Honestly why do you have to start bashing volunteers for no reason?
    And if for some reason if you don't think airhorns should be used anymore anywhere then you should take a look on almost any road or any intersection and see how many people aren't paying attention. Sirens work great, but I've seen more than once a driver who for some unknown reason can't hear our sirens or see our lights. One quick yank on the air horn chain and guess what, they snap back to reality and get out of our way.
    I get what your saying, and yes thats what it should be used for, but I'm talking about the guys who right when the station doors come up are blasting away with the Q and air horn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post
    I get what your saying, and yes thats what it should be used for, but I'm talking about the guys who right when the station doors come up are blasting away with the Q and air horn.!!
    No, you made a generalization about a group of firefighters who out number us 4:1 and about a product that you obviously know nothing about when you said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post
    And your in the fire service why??

    Just because its there doesn't mean you HAVE to use it. Its not there for your protection, the sirens and light are there for your protection, the Q is just a needless piece of equipment that volunteers in towns that get 1 call a month like to go out blasting every time they get a run...

    Think about it...... All you needs to do is enter the intersection SLOWLY( slow is 5-10 mph, not 35 mph) and do some playing with the siren tones and your good to go. No need to kill everybody and be a hero getting there as fast as you can by going 40 mph through an intersection blasting your air horn and useless Q. Thats all for show. Theres no need for it anywhere!!
    And just for the record, a "Q" is a siren - retard. If it's any consultation, you sound like you'll make a fine Chief one day.
    Last edited by MemphisE34a; 03-26-2008 at 10:01 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng18a View Post
    And your in the fire service why??

    Just because its there doesn't mean you HAVE to use it. Its not there for your protection, the sirens and light are there for your protection, the Q is just a needless piece of equipment that volunteers in towns that get 1 call a month like to go out blasting every time they get a run...

    Think about it...... All you needs to do is enter the intersection SLOWLY( slow is 5-10 mph, not 35 mph) and do some playing with the siren tones and your good to go. No need to kill everybody and be a hero getting there as fast as you can by going 40 mph through an intersection blasting your air horn and useless Q. Thats all for show. Theres no need for it anywhere!!
    Uh oh, better take all the Q's off the rigs at work! I honestly can't think of a career engine within 30 miles that doesn't have a Q on it. Why? They produce more dB, over a longer distance, have a wider coverage area to the sides, and help penetrate the more well-insulated vehicles that we have to battle for space on the road today.

    What's with the volunteer bashing?
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    Pedersen, who has lived in the Tenderloin for about 10 years, pointed to a 2004 city controller's report that noted that the number of emergency calls is also inflated by false alarms from call boxes and commercial alarms.
    We all know alarm systems are ALWAYS false, so we should stop responding altogether to the alarms. Silly fire department.

    Pedersen wants the department to stop using air horns, and other neighbors have asked the department to lower the decibels of the sirens. Neither option seems feasible to firefighters.
    Perhaps we all should start using kazoos instead?


    Quote Originally Posted by Hexxus
    Because it's fun as ****. If you don't like it, to bad. The equipment was put on the rig for us to use, not just as another piece of chrome that needs cleaned and polished. If you're to scared to blow the horn or stomp the Q because you think it'll upset someone, then grow some balls. It's put there for their protection and ours.
    I do enjoy the sound of a Q and airhorn, but I use it when the need presents itself, not winding it non-stop and make it spin off the bumper. I hope you are the same way, and you just worded your post wrong.

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