City looks at relocating fire sirens

Terry RogersHeadlines, Milford Headline Story, Police & Fire

A fire siren located in downtown Milford may soon be relocated outside of town

At a recent council meeting, City Manager Mark Whitfield stated that the city was in discussions with Carlisle Fire Company to relocate fire sirens from the downtown area to locations outside the city. A license agreement has been presented to the fire company and it was currently being reviewed by their legal counsel.

“The existing siren will be moved to the electric substation on Elks Lodge Road just past Wilkins Road,” Whitfield said. “The existing siren, currently deactivated, at the electric substation just off the Milford Harrington Highway will be refurbished and activated. The existing siren at Marshall Street, presently deactivated, will be relocated to the city’s water treatment facility at 707 Northeast Front Street and activated. A new siren will be installed at the water treatment facility at the intersection of Route 113 and Shawnee Road.”

Whitfield explained that instead of one single activated siren located in the downtown area, there will now be four located on the edges of the city.

“The sirens are being relocated to better distribute the signal to areas within the city as well as outside the city,” Whitfield said. “Most volunteer personnel actually live outside the city. There will be a better distribution of signal and thereby will improve the ability for fire personnel to hear the signal. It is our intent to have the signals relocated within the first half of next year.”

There have been many complaints about the fire siren located in the center of town. As far back as 2015, residents who live in the vicinity of the sirens have complained that the decibels are so loud, it was actually affecting their quality of life. At that time, then-City Manager Hans Medlarz explained that the sirens were used to warn other citizens that volunteer firefighters may be traveling at higher rates of speed than normal through town to get to the fire station. Since volunteers did not have warning lights or sirens, the fire siren was used as a safety measure for other motorists. In addition, the State of Delaware requires that every volunteer fire company have two methods to notify members of an alarm. The code states that “fire alerting equipment shall be sirens and/or tone activated radio receiving equipment.” The fire company has maintained that the sirens are used by volunteers as notification of alarms.

In May 2015, the city did pay to move the downtown siren to the top of the tower in hopes that it would disperse the sound and make it less disruptive. However, complaints continued that the sirens made it impossible to sleep, talk on the phone or hold a conversation.

Fire Chief Ryan Knowles was unable to give any details on the siren changes as there were still details to be ironed out. During the meeting, Councilman Dan Marabello asked about a timeline to move the sirens and Whitfield stated there was not a specific date.

“However, their funding comes up in January,” Whitfield said. “We may want to do some agreement with them that the move occurs prior to funding.”

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