2009-09-17 / Letters to the Editor

Silence the fire horn

The following letter was sent to the Jamestown Town Council, with a copy sent to the Jamestown Press.

As a long suffering resident of downtown Jamestown, I do not like the use of the fire horns and want them silenced. Though I speak only for myself and family, I assure you many others feel the same way.

I ask that you, the elected Jamestown Town Council, at long last take responsibility for our peace and quality of life. It is not enough just to appreciate low taxes, thanks to our volunteer fire and rescue services – we deserve peace and quiet as well.

In the Aug. 13 Jamestown Press, our fire department presented various reasons for perpetrating the use of audio signals to alert us of emergencies, to claim that in power outages we must rely on audio signals, that the signal’s volume isn’t adjustable and that there will be fewer (16) signals.

I counter those arguments:

• A visual traffic signal over the street in front of the fire house, as most towns in the country employ, would more safely alert those in the vicinity of emergency vehicle traffi c without unnecessarily scaring the daylights out of them.

• If horns are needed in case of a power outage, how will they operate without an automatic generator, which, of course, could also power radios?

• The overwhelming blasts could easily be reduced in volume by removing a horn or by using smaller horns.

• If the previously coded signals are to be reduced to 16 blasts (no coded information), why not just one signal?

• We managed without any horns during July; why do we need any horns at all?

Since our youngsters manage to keep in constant touch, with or without “Twitter,” why can’t our emergency responders do likewise? If it is a matter of funding, the town, Homeland Security and stimulus grants can, and certainly should, provide the necessary money.

In regard to installing a new horn system that’s not programmable as to volume or number of signals, do not throw money away on an already primitive, obsolete, triballike means of warning! Providence recently put in a state-of-the-art, “digital microwave communications system that promises to keep first responders in close contact throughout any local, regional or statewide emergency” (ProJo, Aug. 25, 2009). With $36,000 slated for another horn system, Homeland Security grants, and the money we are saving by not maintaining streets and roads, we certainly could invest in the future instead of the past.

I ask you, our elected government, the Jamestown Town Council, to act for us and take responsibility for and alleviate the onerous, obnoxious and unneeded burden of the fire horns, but, should you be convinced of their necessity, that you take action to situate similar horns throughout the island for the enlightenment and protection of all your constituents.
Martin S. Hellewell

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