By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
Firefighters still don’t believe any changes should be made to an emergency siren in a residential area in Grove City – although citizens have complained numerous times to borough council about the noise.
Citizens last met at a Police and Fire Committee meeting in September, which borough Manager Vance Oakes summarized at council’s regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 21.
They wanted to know more about the siren in Ward 4 – on Bessemer Street at Forest Avenue – and the borough found it was made by Federal Signal Corp., an Illinois company that still manufactures them.
A company representative told Oakes that the model had a 105-decible range within recommendations by OSHA and FEMA – and is normally placed on a 35- to 40-foot-tall pole.
The borough measured its model and found it to be exactly 40 feet high. “The intensity is more annoying under 35 feet and over 40 feet, it starts to skip over closer properties and impact further properties,” Oakes added.
The siren was typically sold as a weather alert, although fire companies sometimes use them, the representative added.
“He said it was a situation that had to be dealt with locally on how to use it.”
Citizens wanted to find out if the deafening siren could be elevated. Oakes said it could be, as long as it was next to a street so the borough could access it.
They also wanted to know if the alarm could be shortened from four revolutions to two.
Firefighter Todd Wood – who is running for council in the Nov. 5 election – said the fire department had a meeting last week and talked extensively about the siren and “recommends leaving it exactly the way it is for the safety of the town. This is not the only one in a residential area.”
Municipalities must have two types of alert systems, Wood added.
Councilman Michael Coulter wondered if those could be pagers and phone calls, especially after 11 p.m., he said. “There’s lots of people upset and don’t like the sirens. ... There’s lots of municipalities that don’t have these sirens.”
Councilman Richard Talbert says automated systems often don’t kick in until after the firefighters are on the scene, because they first heard of the emergency from the siren.
Firefighter Jeff Hodge, who is also on council as chair of the Police and Fire Committee, said he would like to meet with citizens one more time to explain the borough’s findings before council votes on any possible changes.
Coulter believed the firefighters have traditionally been too quick to give an “immediate ‘no,’” to any changes on the siren, he said. “You’ve not been very responsive (to any suggestions).”
Oakes said after the meeting that there are four sirens in residential areas in the borough, and one in Grove City Memorial Park.
This story was published Oct. 23, 2013