Sept. 13--Before the days of pagers and radios, volunteer firefighters were summoned to a call via a siren that sounded the alarm throughout the community.
With the advent of modern forms of communication, many departments silenced those sirens -- but one recently put its siren back up after a three-year hiatus and now plans to use it not just for alerting firefighters to calls but also to notify the community of weather emergencies.
Ebenezer Fire Department reinstalled its refurbished siren Monday, placing it atop a new utility pole at the station on Turnersburg Highway.
Fire Capt. Matt McAlpin said the siren, which was put atop a metal structure in 1975, was removed in 2010 when renovations to the existing station were started.
The renovations were completed last year and the department's members, along with its board of directors, decided the siren, a tradition in volunteer fire departments, needed to go back up, McAlpin said.
"We go by a lot of traditional stuff at the fire department and the siren is one of those traditions around this place," said Deputy Chief Marty Liles.
He said that loud siren is what drew him to the fire department. As a child, Liles attended school at Ebenezer Elementary, which is situated near the fire department. "Hearing that siren is what got me interested in the fire department," he said.
With the help of a Charlotte Fire Department firefighter, Billy Todd, and his son, along with a local business, Keco, the siren was refurbished and painted, and on Monday, it was ready to be hoisted above the fire department.
McAlpin said Associated Metal Works donated the use of crane and Country Boy Landscaping provided a bucket truck. EnergyUnited donated a utility pole to hold the siren.
He said it will be about two weeks before the siren is operational again and it will sound on fire calls only -- not medical calls. It will be silenced late at night and into the early morning hours.
The only exception to that rule will be in the event of a weather emergency, such as a tornado warning. And that sound will be different. Instead of sounding for less than a minute for fire calls, a weather emergency will mean a three-minute blast.
McAlpin said this is the only siren in Iredell County to be used as a weather warning system.
Liles said the department does plan to notify residents, via mail or the county's CTY system, about the siren and its functions.
McAlpin said fire department members installed the siren in 1975.
"They put it up by hand and it weighs about 500 pounds," he said. McAlpin's father, Bill, who served as chief at Ebenezer in the late 1980s, was among those who helped put it up in 1975.
Those members, McAlpin said, are pleased to see the tradition continue. "Dad is super excited," he said.
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