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Why the Fire Siren Sounds
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Milford residents, it has been brought to our attention once again that there are several complaints about our fire siren. While many residents have moved here from areas that did not have a fire siren, many of us have been raised with it. We have taken the time to explain why our whistle still blows and will continue to do so.
The Carlisle Fire Company has provided service to the citizens of Milford since 1802. During the last 217 years, all fire protection and extinguishment by Carlisle Fire Company members has been 100% volunteer. The fire siren installed in the the era of the 1940s has been alerting Carlisle members and the public ever since.
The purpose of the fire sirens are to alert the citizens and the volunteer fire department members of an emergency. While we rely on other forms of communication such as pagers and cell phones, they have their short comings. Batteries die, pagers and cell phones are not on the person, text messaging and smart phone apps like Chief Backstage are often delayed, with some calls not coming through at all. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that there are at least two reliable means to alert firefighters. The siren gets the firefighters attention at any time.
It has been asked if the fire siren cycles could be reduced, to which we did comply in the early 2000s that reduce the number of cycles from 10 to seven. Now we are being asked to eliminate the fire siren unless it is the need for a catastrophic emergency. We ask you, have you ever called 911 in a panic, because your loved one is not breathing, your recently remodeled kitchen was on fire, or a tree has fallen into your house, the one you worked and saved for most of your life and now it is destroyed? Do you remember your catastrophic emergency now?
We ask you as the citizens of Milford to think about this if you will. Have you ever thought when that fire siren sounds in the middle of the night, there is a member of your community, friend, neighbor or even loved one, waking up out of their warm bed from a sound sleep, to go to help a total stranger? And that person who just woke up does not get to go back to sleep in five to 10 minutes, they are up and awake for possibly the rest of the night or morning helping others, to then go to work the next morning, after helping someone in need.
Have you ever thought that during Thanksgiving or Christmas when that whistle blows at any time, that member is leaving their family gathering, kids opening presents, or that only day off that week they have to spend with their significant other? Yes, this is what we signed up for, this is what we volunteered for, to do just this, but, what if we didn’t volunteer? What if no one came? Ever.
The fire siren is not just for the firefighter. The fire siren can also alert the public that someone is in trouble, something is in trouble and firefighters and or firetrucks are going to be coming through shortly. Instead of the fire siren thought of as a nuisance, it should be used as a tool. It could be alerting you that one may be in trouble in your neighborhood, maybe a loved one across town. It may be sounding because your neighbor’s house is on fire, but you failed to get out bed to ensure you are safe.
Now the fire has spread, it has spread to your house and is blocking your exit out. You waited too long to get out of bed because the siren was a nuisance, and now your only exit is blocked by fire. Is that siren still a nuisance now? We know this is a dramatic example, but is it really? This could happen to anyone at any time. Seven cycles, one and a half minutes of a fire siren really is not a complaint when we focus on the big picture.
May the fire siren still be used as an extremely valuable tool for the Carlisle and Delaware Fire Service.