With the completion of several infrastructure projects in Oregon, the fire department will no longer be using its sirens, a relief for residents living near the city’s three fire stations.
The stations - at Bay Shore Road, Wynn and Seaman, and on Wheeling Street near I-280, have not used the sirens in years, said Mayor Mike Seferian.
“Years ago, before we got pagers and other telecommunications, the sirens are what alerted the firemen to show up at the station to go out on calls. Then firefighters got pagers. Now, they have voice activated pagers that tell them what they are responding to – maybe a fire or rescue call for Fire Station 1,” he said.
“We had both for a while,” he added. “About nine years ago, we thought the pager system was good enough that we didn’t need the sirens at the buildings anymore.”
With traffic congestion caused by the Wheeling Street Bridge and other ongoing infrastructure projects in the last two years, the city decided to use the sirens again to improve safety, said Seferian.
“We were using the sirens again at daybreak. We didn’t use the sirens at night because we figured the lights on the vehicles responding to calls would stand out enough in the dark or near dark where people could see them. During the day, you can’t see the red flashing lights nearly as well as at night, when you can see them from miles away,” he said.
Firefighters responding to the fire station on Wheeling Street had to be rerouted due to the Wheeling Street project, he said.
“The Wheeling Street project went right in front of that fire station and blocked it off, It made it much more difficult for the firefighters to get to the station. So they had to take back roads. The chief thought it would be helpful to avoid possible problems. During the same time, we had traffic routed where Stadium Road was shut down. We also had Otter Creek Road shut down at a time when it was being repaved. Now that all those projects are done, we are going back to just using our pager system and the equipment that the personnel have on their cars to respond,” said Seferian.
Seferian said he had received many calls last year from residents living near the stations complaining about the sirens going off, disrupting the peace of the neighborhood.
“You can hear them from quite a ways. Even though we hadn’t used them for a while, the people who have been here for a while know about them because they have been going off forever up until they were silenced. When we started using them again, we got a lot of calls from people complaining who live by the stations. They were mad,” said Seferian, who went out to hear them for himself. “The sirens are loud. It’s enough to wake the dead.”