City Addresses Fire Siren Complaints

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File Photo: Carlisle fire trucks parked outside the Milford Museum in downtown Milford for the opening of an exhibit.
File Photo: Carlisle fire trucks parked outside the Milford Museum in downtown Milford for the opening of an exhibit.

By Terry Rogers

In February Milford City Council discussed addressing the concerns of several citizens regarding the fire siren that is located behind City Hall. Several citizens who live in the vicinity of the fire signal and some who work in businesses near the siren have complained to City Manager, Hans Medlarz, that it is dangerously loud and disruptive.

“The decibels of the siren are entirely too loud,” said Jan Broulik, co-owner of Causey Mansion Bed and Breakfast. “It wakes us up when it goes off and, more importantly, it wakes up our guests. It is literally painful if you are outside and it goes off.” Nadia and Craig Zychal, who live a few blocks from the siren on South Washington Street say that the siren diminishes their quality of life as it is impossible to hold a conversation or talk on the phone when the siren sounds.

Mr. Medlarz told council members that he had met with Carlisle Fire Company in order to come up with a resolution that would benefit the citizens as well as the fire company. The siren is important to the safety of residents in the city, Mr. Medlarz explained.

“The chief has been of great benefit in explaining the importance of the fire signal,” Mr. Medlarz said. “The siren is used to warn other citizens that volunteer firemen may be traveling at higher rates of speed than normal through the town in order to get to the fire station. The volunteers do not have warning lights or sirens on their vehicle, so the fire siren is a way to protect other citizens who do not have the benefit of a pager or scanner that there is an emergency.”

The Zychals and Mr. Broulik said that few citizens were aware that the siren was meant to warn them about firemen responding to the fire station. They also do not understand why it must be sounded so often.

“It went off five times on Christmas Day,” Mr. Broulik said. “There is very little traffic on Christmas Day, so I fail to see why sounding it five times was necessary.” Mr. Zychal said that the siren stopped working for two months and he did not hear of any problems in the area during that time, so he was unclear why it was necessary at all. There does not appear to be any state law that requires a city with volunteer fire companies to sound a siren for alarms, although almost every small town in the state has one.

In an effort to reduce the sound of the siren, the city made the decision to change the elevation of the siren to the top of the water tower. Mr. Medlarz said that this would keep the sound of the siren from reflecting off downtown buildings. The city had contacted Southern Corrosion, who maintains the tower, to get a price for moving the siren and they were still awaiting that quote.

“There are two sirens that work,” Fire Chief Duane Fox told council. “One is on Marshall Street and it is only 20 to 30 feet high. If moving this siren higher works, we may be able to discontinue using that one and only use the one in downtown Milford.” Mr. Fox said that the fire company would discuss blackout time periods when the siren would not be used. Carlisle Fire Company agreed to discuss the potential for blackout periods internally and advise council what was decided.

“We appreciate that city officials and the fire company are making an effort to help us,” Mr. Broulik said. “I think raising it will help with the noise problem.” Mr. Zychal pointed out that the city could very easily have just told them there was nothing that could be done, but they did not. He was pleased that the city and the fire company were making an effort to resolve the issue.

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