Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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30 comments - (Comments closed)

Cease the Fire Sirens

Having lived here since November 2008, I can no longer deal with the Town of Mamaroneck Fire Department’s continual use of the over the top siren. Where else in the western world do neighbors have to put up with such an unnecessary noise?

I am of the understanding that many moons ago other methods of communicating with volunteers were introduced and should be the only call out. To utilize the excuse that they may not hear their pages or phones if they are out of range beggars belief. Get a less obtrusive method that keeps them in range.

Please get with the program guys and girls and stop this ridiculous method of call out. It is annoying and totally out of order to continue in this manner. Stop it and stop it now please. You are making mine and others’ lives a misery.

Keith Harrington
Town of Mamaroneck, NY

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30 comments to Cease the Fire Sirens

  • larchmontlifer

    First, you chose to buy your house where you did. Live with your choice. This method has been in use for years, so it should not be a surprise to you.

    Having grown up and lived in Larchmont my whole life, I cannot imagine getting rid of the fire horns. One of the fond memories I have of my father, is listening together to the horns to determine which fire hydrant and therefore which neighborhood the fire call was in. In addition, if you ask anyone who grew up here, the “6 o’clock whistle” that blew every night, was the signal for all of us to stop playing and go home for dinner.

  • DR

    And the laughter of children and cats meowing! By God, will someone quiet those too!!!

    Presumably if the poster’s house burns down because the firemen for some reason were not able to respond quickly due to a malfunction of the paging system he would wish his program was not gotten with.

    It’s called redundancy.

  • Keith

    I love the sound of cats meowing and children playing; if only I could hear them over the noise of the siren. I also enjoy living near the fire station and have no issue with the fire trucks coming or going. Again I reiterate my inital question; where else is this type of call out method used?
    Having had the good fortune of utilizing an all volunteer fire department in NC they came from far and wide and did not need to be alerted by use of such an over the top system and my house did not burn down. I am sure had the paging system and or telephone system failed they could resort to an audible siren and that in this instance would suit me fine. Use it as a backup not the main method.


  • PJ

    The sirens /horns are from day gone by, but are also used in days gone by as a means for area wide CIVIL DEFENSE.Fire depts in the north east have used horns bells etc… for longer than most families have been established in the area. Keith I don’t have too much sympathy for you unless you stop Rt. 95, Metro North. and judging from where you reside St. John and Paul church. I still want a three minute siren that tells me we have to tune in to radio ,TV or look out our windows to know trouble is coming. Sorry sir but I am not complacent.

    PS I hope I never have to pay a visit to your house when the SIREN goes off.

  • Keith

    I also have no issue with a three minute warning siren as part of a general alarm and in fact fully endorse one. It is the use of said alarm for nearly ever call out that I am finding difficult to understand.

    If we are unique in that we have far to many areas that pagers, cell phones, two way radios or other such communication devices do not work as a first option then a siren for general call out of the fire service is logical. I remain open to be convinced that this is the case for our area.

  • Dancerina

    larchmont lifer – i recall the 6 o’clock whistle. it was the way our folks told us to stop playing, come home for dinner or do your homework. it had many interpretations but for the most part, it meant ‘come on home’. it was a universal signal for us and generated a pavlovian response from the local kids. run home and don’t be late or you might not get to eat!

    that said, i never could understand how the people who lived next door or on the same street as that fire house did not find the noise excruciatingly loud. especially when they had little kids or babies to get off to sleep. but i never heard any of them complain about it. i couldn’t do it. so i do sympathasaize with the new homeowners who didn’t realize how disturbing it can be. just like living next to a highway or metro north. some people don’t mind and find it ‘lulling’ others can’t hack it. i’m w/ the latter (not the ladder!)

  • whistle blower

    You knew the 6 o’clock horn and you knew the 8 am horn-that’s the one that told you it was time to crunch breakfast and get to school. Anything in between was fire or emergency except snow days which I believe they still blow the 2 2 2 horn for? When we were kids we use to also count the number of boops and look it up in the little book ( I still have one) which deciphered the street/location of the emergency. I kind of miss the 6pm & 8am boops but thankfully enjoy the peace and quiet in between!

  • Dancerina

    so this ‘little book’ you mention is an anomaly to me. i feel so deprived after living in larchmont all those years i never knew there was a little red? book that told you where the fire or emergency was taking place. i thought it was much less sophisticated than that. hmmmm…….. no privacy even back then ;-)

    guess it would be hard to cover up a call from the local fire dept; not to mention, the daily times newspaper (i loved that little paper!) would rat you out in the end in their police blotter section.

  • whistle blower

    Ahhhhh The Daily Times… we knew it. Andy, Aunt Bee & Opey. I wish it were the way it use to be. The fire horn book was a 3 fold little cardboard factoid. The coding system looked like something invented by the Knights Templar. 8 times out of 10 someone’s cat was stuck up in a tree.

  • Judy Silberstein

    In 2003, the Larchmont Gazette responded to a question from a reader wanting to know the meaning of the fire horn signals.

    For a blast from the past, check out:

    Larchmont Fire Signals: Interpreting Those Whistle Patterns

  • TWNMamkRes

    I understand that they are not the most pleasant thing to be woken up by at 2am, or to listen to in the middle of the day, but they have been there for as long as I can remember, I have lived in Larchmont my entire life (23 years). You have not yet been here for a year sir, maybe you should look into a community that’s a little quieter, may i suggest upstate NY.

  • Emily Grotta

    Our sirens are all about being part of a small community.

    When I hear the sirens I immediately think “uh oh, someone’s in trouble” and I wonder, “Whose house is on fire? Is it one of my friends? Or a store in town?”

    I suggest Keith and others who think the sirens disturb their peace get out of their cocoons and become PART of the community, not isolated from it.

  • 40 degees North

    I’m actually quite appalled at some of the responses here. Just because someone finds the sirens disturbing, even if they’ve always been in place, there is no reason for people to tell this guy to move out. He has as much right to live in Larchmont as any of the others – lifelong or not – residents.

    I can assure you all, I’m quite a bit older than the others on this board, having lived in the Larchmont/Town of Mam’k area my whole life, and I would never tell someone to “get out” if they don’t like the noise of the sirens. Keith is right, it’s loud and it is a form of noise pollution to be quite honest. Since he lives so close to the Fire Dept. it’s probably even viewed as very obnoxious. But not nearly as obnoxious as some of the “lifers” responses. Show some diplomacy. We were not raised as boorish thugs in our town but that is what some of these responses sound like.

    Show some respect for people with differential views. On behalf of my fellow citizens, my apologies to Mr. Harrington for dismissing his very real issues. I hope you don’t move out of the area. I would hate to think you are leaving behind a great life here -hopefully, changes can be implemented that would satisfy all needs.
    Keep up the good fight!

  • Anon E Mous

    YES, AGREED ’40 degree North’, and yours is a most respectable response, IMHO.

    Perhaps when ‘TWNMamkRes’ experiences more geography – and yes, there is a famous cover of the New Yorker Magazine from the days of paper journalism – Westchester is ‘upstate’ to those in NYC. :)

    ‘Often, when it comes to adopting new technology, governments lag behind the private sector and even the casual consumer because they are unwilling or unable to try something new and change the way things have always been done. That’s small-minded thinking.’ (Attributed to Michael Bloomberg)

    And supposedly on this Wednesday, October 7th, beginning at 5pm in a Mamaroneck Town Center conference room, we’ll be able to find out more about whether the Town of Mamaroneck Board will open its doors to technology or cling to the more secretive ways ‘things have always been done’. Of course even to find that out, you’d have to physically ‘go behind the curtain wall’, personally attending the meeting. Else, look for story to be published here in the Larchmont Gazette.

    And for now,

    in the Larchmont Gazette.

  • Fisherguy

    The sirens are outdated, obnoxious and totally unecessary. They are a backup? What if police communications go down? Do they blow sirens? Let’s be real, they’re for tradition and to “remind” people of the volunteer services. I have my issues with overbloated fire department budgets, millions for new fire houses and equipment and then having buildings burn to the ground in the middle of the day. I want to see budget reviews, cost containment and options for a small professional staff to work to get on scene faster. Certainly, fewer fire houses with some paid staff could be a budgetary trade off that would not impact response times. Volunteer fire budgets are out of control and they know it as should the public. If you want to attack me because I speak the truth…..go for it. But you know I’m right……..

  • 10538er

    Fisher Guy,
    You are obviously a very well informed resident. The TMFD DOES have a full time “professional” staff at the fire house 24/7/365. And just your luck, the Town is now in the process of reviewing budgets for 2010. So off the computer, hustle on down to the Town Center, and get involved.

  • FisherGuyFan

    WOW there’s a jump. From a noisy horn that is just a part of the town as say, the noisy I-95 corridor, to spending more money to prevent houses burning down in the middle of the day? Way to stay on the subject matter and in the realm of reality.

  • siren

    A few more ideas about sirens : the FDs in our lovely towns get most of the trucks out on the slightest hint of an emergency. It makes them look good,you see, in addition to avoid being sued because the ladder did not go out for a false fire alarm – it keeps reminding taxpayers how much equipment and firefighting power they pay for, so that they feel that they really need it. So in addition to the siren to call the staff (mostly un-necessary if the initial assessment had been done right), there are the sirens of the vehicles themselves, going out and then coming back. The more they go out, the more incident pay and time in lieu there is for all involved. SO this is what you get for your quaint little town souvenirs of bygone days. Enjoy !

  • Huh?

    Ok, now I’m completely confused. Fischerguy says we have houses burning down in the middle of the day and no one is there to fight them. And now Siren is saying we have all these trucks driving on the road PLUS cars with sirens and lots of drivers with lights responding? So, I’m not sure if either of these anonymous people are really valid people with valid information.
    So, I guess all I have to say to Siren is “Call me crazy but dont we want fire trucks going to alarms, even if they’re false?” I mean, according to fischerguy, with all these fires going on, I would hope the trucks would show up because it sounds like there’s a lot of things burning and you can’t take a chance.

  • Flex

    The fire whistle has been a part of this town’s tradition for many years. You are fortunate enough to have a compliment of dedicated, professional, volunteer firefighters and EMT/paramedics, which translates into LOWER TAXES FOR YOU! The department has been operating for over 100 years. They know their business and know it well!!

    YOU should have considered this BEFORE YOU PURCHASED YOUR HOME. So, if you are living in misery, perhaps you should look for a place more suitable, with an entirely paid department and the taxes to go with it. New Rochelle would be a good start.

    With all due respect, I would also suggest that the next time you start whining that you “can no longer deal” with the sirens, you consider the adverse conditions our troops face every day.

    The Town of Mamaroneck is a great town to live in and raise your family. You have it made here and there are many who wish they could live here! Be thankful for what you have sir!

  • Anon E Mous

    Hey Flex – Be flexible.

    When people propose change, listen, as even electric sirens have a relatively short history in that of mankind. We too often discourage those who propose improvements, telling them to ‘move’. Fortunate, that those who advanced the ‘internet’ persisted, or you would be able to be ‘here’ :-) . There are people in our ‘communities’ who have tried to advance our good fire services and control expenses. Often not enough attention is paid to them.

  • Keith

    Why is it that people want me to leave? All I did was ask why we utilise such a method of callout in this day and age? As a side issue, I also note the lack of real names in replies, I wonder why that is?

    I love it here and so does my family. I suspect the town also loves our family tax paying dollars. Living here however does not mean that I will totally accept everything as being the norm and just put up and shut up. Sorry, not my nature and frankly nor should it be.

    If we all just put up then some pretty big changes in the history in this area, country and the rest of the world would never have occurred.

    I will take my questions directly to the Fire Chief and see what he has to say on the matter of my initial query.

    Finally Flex, 12 years of my life serving in the military defending the rights of others to live and operate in a democratic society contributes to my belief that I should raise issues that I know effect many people.

    Trust me, my fallen comrades and those I know that are still deployed worldwide are forever in my mind. Please do not ever assume that I and many others do not know what it is like to live and operate in those adverse conditions.

  • Anon E Mous

    Keith, those of small minds may suggest you leave. Please stay and speak out for what you believe is right.

    You are correct, change is too often resisted because it is different. Yes, if Columbus were not insistent, we might not be here. Much change begins with a single voice that cries out repeatedly.

    Keep shouting, keep looking, keep listening, be persistent and don’t accept that things must be the way they’ve been or that things can’t be better.

    Glad to have someone raising a voice and challenging the status quo.

  • Good Idea but....

    I see both sides of this issue. On the one hand, an “air horn” is a little outdated. On the other hand, and I’m surprised people dont grasp this concept, you do need a system that serves as a backup to modern technology.
    So while I agree there may be an alternative, last I checked, we’re in a recession and spending money is not an option. In addition, wouldn’t it be wiser to spend money on firefighting equipment that can serve the entire town as opposed to spending money to lower the pain on one block?
    Just food for thought.

  • PJ

    There is another reason for horns /sirens in many volunteer or combo departments. Often a new member has to wait up to a year due to budget constraints or training requirement to get a pager. It is, other than a scanner, the only other way a new member knows there is a call. Keith I do have sympathy for you to a degree and there might be something to remedy your situation. Sometimes it’s obvious such as pointing the horn upward just a few degrees. Talk to the chiefs – they are the people who will remedy or at least help better the situation you have.

    • Keith

      PJ, thank you for this valuable input. I can take these points and raise them as suggested and hopefully resolve the pager issue also.

  • Flex

    Keith: This is my rebuttal to your follow up. I sincerely thank you for your 12 years of service to this country, defending the rights of others to live in a democratic society. Many of us, our parents and ancestors have done the same. As such, we do have the right to respond to your comments, even anonymously, when we feel your comments are unwarranted, insulting, offensive or we disagree with your position. In your response you stated “All I did was ask why we utilize such a method of call out in this day and age” Well, that’s not what I read in your initial letter. Perhaps you should scroll up and re-read your statements.

    Just for the record, I am not an employee or volunteer for the town or any of the villages. I am also unaware of what notification methods they use for alerting their personnel to emergency calls. I agree with you that there may be a better way, without waking a significant portion of the town at 2am. I have also had to deal with my children waking in the middle of the night, although it was many years ago! Department issued cell phones, with text messaging capabilities would be a good start and the costs involved are far outweighed by the volunteer services provided. Just look at the budgets of cities with full time staff and no volunteers.

    However, what I do object to is you stating “The current methods are ridiculous”, referring to our Firefighters as “Guys and Girls”, your telling them to “get with the program”, that they or the use of the fire whistle is “totally out of order.”

    In addition, NO ONE HAS TOLD YOU TO MOVE OUT OF TOWN! Your statements that you “can no longer deal with the Town of Mamaroneck Fire Department’s continual use of the over the top siren” and “You are making mine and others life a misery” have invoked similar responses from more than one reader, that perhaps you would be happier somewhere else. Had your initial letter not been so condescending, I believe you would have received more support for your cause, including mine.

    It is also interesting that throughout this dialogue, I have not seen you once mention the GREAT JOB the Town of Mamaroneck Volunteers are doing, the cost savings to you, your family and the rest of this community.

    You have stated you will now take your questions to the Fire Chief. In my humble opinion, that should have been your first stop. If you were unable to resolve your grievance with the Chief, you should have gone to your elected officials and given them the opportunity to assist you, as opposed to airing your grievance in the media, without affording them the opportunity to address it. It’s called common courtesy. And so, while I agree with you that there may be a better way, as opposed to waking up folks at 2am, it’s all in the way you address it and work toward a compromise.

    That’s my opinion, like it or not. I wish you every success in coming to an amicable solution.

    • Keith

      Dear Flex
      Thank you for your reply.
      Could I have made a wiser choice of words and used less emotion, absolutely? Is it my intention to offend or insult our Firefighters and EMT, never? If I have then I apologize unreservedly.
      Given the length of time the horn has been in use and having read or heard what has happened in the past I rightly or wrongly assumed that talking directly appeared pointless. Could I have handled this in another way, possibly?
      Why only now do I choose to talk directly to the Chief, some very positive and informative input both in conversation and via this medium that affords me the opportunity to suggest alternative solutions that may not have been proposed in the past.
      Again, my apologies to those who feel I have insulted or undermined them. That was not my intention. Secondly, I will contact the Fire Chief and ascertain what can be done in both the short and long term and finally, remember to apply the discipline of only pressing send a few hours after typing my emails.

  • Dancerina

    Well, in response to Keith, the renowned author of the said “letter” about the deafening sirens from the TMFD, I have two things to say:

    1)Keep in mind, this is a town that has always practiced respectfulness and diplomacy. In saying this I mean, it has never hung its dirty laundry out on the line for all to see. It’s not plastic world of “The Stepford Wives” please don’t worry – but it is does not condone the squeaky wheel syndrome. It is not that people are not vocal, cause they are and always have been. But it’s more of an operating style: “pick your battles and choose them wisely before speaking out in public” hence, the need to voice opinions anonymously using aliases here. Call it cowardly, but I think people want to be able to say what they feel without the ramifications of what you have experienced. I also got the impression that a few of the responses implied you should move out of town. But don’t take it personally, they would like to see a lot of people they don’t agree with move out, no doubt. But that’s not going to happen here so it’s a moot point. You’re stuck with us and we’re keepin’ you around!! Larchmont supports its neighbors – always has and always will do that. We don’t bait and switch.

    2) Your tax paying dollars are as much appreciated as the guy who lives to the right and left of you. The IRS is most likely happy you pay your taxes as is the State, and County no doubt. However, it’s not only you who pays high taxes – everyone in Westchester County does for the most part, and especially in places like Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck, the Village of Mamaroneck to name just a few. If you were not living there, and someone else was in your place, they would be paying their property taxes. So the Town would be collecting either way. They don’t care who lives in the house as long as the owner is paying their property taxes. So I don’t really know why you would bring this up. Everyone who owns a house here is obligated to pay their property taxes – you are not doing anyone any favors. No offense.

  • 10538er

    Great response, I hope Keith does talk to the Chief and gets the answers he is looking for.