Pa. Fire Siren Silenced by Vandals, Some Thrilled


A Westmoreland County fire company is struggling with a vandalism case that's causing a major public safety hazard

Youngwood Fire Chief Lloyd Crago told Channel 4 Action News' Ashlie Hardway that over the past month someone has been shutting off the power to the company's main fire siren. To protect the device, firefighters locked it up. But that didn't keep the equipment working.

"We locked up the switch so nobody could turn it off. Now, over the weekend again it wasn't working. We come down and checked and now somebody's cutting the phone wires to it," Crago said.

Crago said he knows the 70-year-old siren is loud, but he also said it's a necessary part of keeping the community safe.

"Everybody relies on these sirens that notify us when we have a fire call or something going on in the borough," Crago said. "Once they hear the fire whistle blowing, they go to the fire station, 911 announces what kind of call it is and where we're going."

Some people who live in the area said they're grateful for a little peace.

"It's nice because it's finally quiet around here. When that thing goes off, you can't hear on the phone. You can't hear yourself talk out here," said neighbor Tim Nelson.

Nelson said he believes the vandalism is wrong, but wonders why modern technology can't replace the loud siren, which may go off several times during the frequent calls in the area.

The chief told Hardway that not all the firefighters have cellphones or pagers and the ones who do don't always hear them go off. The whistle is so loud that everyone can hear.

"I understand it is loud and the cycle runs about two minutes, minute and a half to two minutes. It is loud and we do run a lot of calls. Last year was over 500 calls a year. So it does go off a good bit," said Crago. But at the end of the day, Crago says anyone annoyed by the siren would be grateful for its service.

"I know it's annoying, but if it's your house on fire, you're in a vehicle accident or somebody in your family's sick, you want that fire whistle to blow," Crago said.

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