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  1. TopTop #1
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    https://www.pressdemocrat.com/articl...cles/101119728



    By BOB NORBERG
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

    Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 2:18 p.m.

    A citizens committee next week will begin exploring alternatives to the Graton Fire Department’s controversial siren, viewed by some as critical to call out volunteers and others as a noisy nuisance.

    The department will be moving into a fire station now under construction on Highway 116 at Green Valley Road and is taking the World War II-era siren, a legacy of Graton’s bucolic past, with it.

    “The county went through the approval process and did approve the siren but asked the Fire Department to look into alternative technology,” said Greg Dabel, vice chairman of the committee. “That is our responsibility.”

    Graton is one of the last of the Sonoma County fire departments still relying on a siren. Other departments have switched to cell phones and pagers.

    Graton fire officials say there are areas in the fire district with dead spots where cell phones and beepers cannot be reached and the siren is the only reliable way to reach firefighters.

    The county Board of Supervisors asked the department to set up the committee to assess alternatives and, in the meantime, to reduce use of the siren as much as possible.

    “There are compelling reasons on both sides to have it and not have it,” Babel said. “I am quite open to mitigating or eliminating the siren, but I am also open to keeping it, and that might mean keeping it against the will of the people.”

    Deputy Chief Bill Bullard said firefightes now only sound the siren at noon, for Thursday night training and in emergencies.

    Citizens for a Better Community filed suit in Sonoma County Superior Court in March for an injunction but since has agreed to delay the suit while the technology is being evaluated.

    The eight-member committee is holding its first meeting Tuesday night to hear an overview of the system in use and to outline the resources and research to begin exploring alternatives.

    Dabel said he hears the siren from his house two miles away, but it is much louder close by.

    “When you are standing across the street at the Post Office, it sounds like the blitzkrieg. It is loud, but it’s been doing it for 50 years and people are used to it,” Dabel said. “The issue is it is moving and there are new neighbors.”

    Although the committee includes three members of the citizen’s group, members say they still believe the committee membership chosen by the fire board is stacked against them.

    “I think it is forgone the committee will come back that there is solid alternative technology out there, otherwise everyone would still have a siren,” said Danelle Jacobs. “My belief is the Graton fire board will ignore that.”

    Dabel thinks it’s the other way.

    “There is only one representative, who is a firefighter, and me who is sympathetic,” he said. “The other six members are almost adamant against. If they are telling you it is stacked, I don’t agree.”

    You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or [email protected].

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  2. TopTop #2
    Runningbare's Avatar
    Runningbare
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Vice chairman of the committee Greg Dabel said, “I am quite open to mitigating or eliminating the siren, but I am also open to keeping it, and that might mean keeping it against the will of the people.”

    What good is a citizens committee if it knowingly acts against the will of the people, and whence does it derive its authority to do this?
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  3. TopTop #3
    2Bwacco
    Guest

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Taking in responses from these government representatives, sometimes it smacks of sadism, as if they enjoy toying with the public, exerting power -- because they CAN.

    The mailing campaign to express objection to the siren went out to under 2,000 households, confined to their Graton Fire District. That seems to be an inadequate sampling and the wrong focus group.

    The opportunity to voice objections to the siren should be available to all who can hear it.

    How about this: discontinue the siren for a period of time -- HEY - how about doing the public a kindness for a change and turn it OFF for the holidays. Evaluate how things went during that period -- the fire district cannot make definitive statements until they have tried a new way of doing something.

    Believe me, once that siren is silenced, even the folks who say "...it doesn't bother me..." will breathe a sigh of relief. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders.

    Those who serve the people in this capacity do not seem to be concerned about the welfare of the people.

    I am hoping the plaintiffs in the lawsuit keep the lawsuit active. This lip service to "look at alternatives" may be a tactic to settle, avoid paying court costs and legal fees, then go back and re-engage the siren soundings. Take it all the way to an enforceable court order! Do not allow construction or relocation of the hardware.

    There is technology available, everyone knows this. Methinks they doth protest too much.
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  4. TopTop #4
    tezor's Avatar
    tezor
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Methinks your bias (as is mine) is evident, and that thou doth protest too much. I wish you the worst of luck in your suit...
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  5. TopTop #5

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    I lived in Graton for a few years, so I know the siren issue well. Moved to downtown Sebastopol, at least 4 miles away from the Graton Fire Station and I can still hear it well.

    I very much appreciate the work of all firefighters, volunteer and paid; but I wish all stations had sirens just for serious emergencies that everyone needs to know about, on the level of natural or man-made disasters. I know we are woefully unprepared for such events.

    Let the majority rule on the siren use issues.

    In peace,

    Colleen Fernald

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by 2Bwacco: View Post
    Taking in responses from these government representatives, sometimes it smacks of sadism, as if they enjoy toying with the public, exerting power -- because they CAN.

    The mailing campaign to express objection to the siren went out to under 2,000 households, confined to their Graton Fire District. That seems to be an inadequate sampling and the wrong focus group.

    The opportunity to voice objections to the siren should be available to all who can hear it.

    How about this: discontinue the siren for a period of time -- HEY - how about doing the public a kindness for a change and turn it OFF for the holidays. Evaluate how things went during that period -- the fire district cannot make definitive statements until they have tried a new way of doing something.

    Believe me, once that siren is silenced, even the folks who say "...it doesn't bother me..." will breathe a sigh of relief. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders.

    Those who serve the people in this capacity do not seem to be concerned about the welfare of the people.

    I am hoping the plaintiffs in the lawsuit keep the lawsuit active. This lip service to "look at alternatives" may be a tactic to settle, avoid paying court costs and legal fees, then go back and re-engage the siren soundings. Take it all the way to an enforceable court order! Do not allow construction or relocation of the hardware.

    There is technology available, everyone knows this. Methinks they doth protest too much.
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  6. TopTop #6
    tarasun
    Guest

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Runningbare: View Post
    Vice chairman of the committee Greg Dabel said, “I am quite open to mitigating or eliminating the siren, but I am also open to keeping it, and that might mean keeping it against the will of the people.”

    What good is a citizens committee if it knowingly acts against the will of the people, and whence does it derive its authority to do this?
    A whole lot of what goes on goes against the will of the people...however, that being said., I was born here. I am a postwar baby so the siren is in my genes.
    It goes against my will to force it to be gone....
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  8. TopTop #7
    ShapeShifter
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    I am NOT a fan of the siren. I live just up the street and am so tired of it. Just moved here a year ago, and was not told about it... Often it goes off at night and wakes me up... I have a baby on the way, and can't imagine that thing waking the baby up at any hour... c'mon, get some pagers or something, or look some other way up, from some other mountain country that does it, what does Switzerland do??



    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Runningbare: View Post
    Vice chairman of the committee Greg Dabel said, “I am quite open to mitigating or eliminating the siren, but I am also open to keeping it, and that might mean keeping it against the will of the people.”

    What good is a citizens committee if it knowingly acts against the will of the people, and whence does it derive its authority to do this?
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  9. TopTop #8
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Barry: View Post
    Graton fire officials say there are areas in the fire district with dead spots where cell phones and beepers cannot be reached and the siren is the only reliable way to reach firefighters.
    ...
    Deputy Chief Bill Bullard said firefightes now only sound the siren at noon, for Thursday night training and in emergencies...
    I want to point out 2 things:

    1) The reason behind the siren is to contact the volunteer fire fighters because the pagers/cellphones do not work in all areas of the Graton fire district. Keep in mind they may be being summoned to save your family and house!

    2) In addition to emergencies, the quote above indicates that it is also sounded for routine events (Noon and trainings). Seems like these soundings could easily be eliminated so that the siren is only used in emergencies, thus substantially reducing the disturbance.

    Whadya say, Bill?
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  11. TopTop #9
    ShapeShifter
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    That is understood that they are here for our safety. I can't imagine that people do not have a land line if they have compromised cell/pager service. There MUST be some way to get in touch with these volunteers aside from a blitzkrieg siren. Also, it looks like the fire department is moving over to 116 up the street, will the siren system go with it or will they be more modern since they are putting up a whole new building? Anyone know?



    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Barry: View Post
    I want to point out 2 things:

    1) The reason behind the siren is to contact the volunteer fire fighters because the pagers/cellphones do not work in all areas of the Graton fire district. Keep in mind they may be being summoned to save your family and house!

    2) In addition to emergencies, the quote above indicates that it is also sounded for routine events (Noon and trainings). Seems like these soundings could easily be eliminated so that the siren is only used in emergencies, thus substantially reducing the disturbance.

    Whadya say, Bill?
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  12. TopTop #10
    "Mad" Miles
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren


    When the EMP burst hits, or the oil runs out and the grid goes down, or the Reptilian Overlords tear off their human mask disguises and start harvesting people off the street for the feeding tanks, you'll be glad for an analog warning signal that runs off the emergency generator, so you have a minute to run for shelter.

    I grew up on Army bases, or near them. So a noon siren is no big deal. Then there was Reveille at dawn and whatever the bugle call is called for lowering the flag at sunset, all broadcast over P.A. systems that could be heard from far away. You stopped walking, talking, faced wherever the flag was, saluted if in uniform, or held your hand over your heart if not. For the entire time it took. Becomes a matter of habit.

    We're all war orphans, just read the history, it seems some of us are in denial about it.

    If you move to a place without having researched the local culture and habits, you have no one to blame but yourself for surprises like: Fire Alarm Sirens, Gravel Truck marathon traffic (although the latter does bug me and I read the daily newspaper and the local weekly freebie so it should be no surprise), agricultural sounds and smells, etc.

    What if Graton held a referendum? What if there is no alternative to the siren when pagers and text messages don't get to every volunteer firefighter at all times and in all places? What if you don't want a cell, like me? (For lots of reasons: No need, no desire to have a radiated brain, liver, bladder, kidneys, intestines, gonads, no desire to be absorbed into the digital hive mind, the internet provides that opportunity enough as it is...)

    Sirens are obnoxious, especially if one lives close by. No argument with that. But having your home burn up because of a digital glitch and the pages and IM's don't go out, that's a little more obnoxious.

    The sirens were first installed for Civil Defense purposes. During the Cold War (or before during WWII because aerial bombardment from Japan was not out of the question) because of the threat of nuclear attack. Not that bending over and kissing your ass goodbye, aka Duck & Cover, was much of a refuge. But some people had fallout shelters.

    You may think that danger is no longer imminent. And you're probably right. But we and several other "Great Powers" maintain ICBM arsenals with nuclear warheads. The threat exists, even though we've learned to live with it.

    With cyberwarfare, what do you think an attacker's first move will be?

    Take down the net! How you gonna know the missiles are headed our way, with no cell, radio, internet, TV, or other wireless or even wired communications? Yes, there's emergency broadcast on Radio and TV, but how protected from interference with the grid and net are they? And if the internet, electrical grid and cell networks are down, how are you going to know to turn on your battery powered radio to try and get the emergency band broadcast? One way that is analog and protected enough (remember the emergency generator) is that obnoxious, loud siren blasting from your local volunteer fire department station house.

    Sounds doomsday and apocalyptic. I know.

    But, Better Safe Than Sorry.

    Trust but verify. (The only thing Reagan said, that made any sense!)

    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. (If only I had the space and money to actually follow that advice.)

    Just pretend you're in a SciFi movie and the malevolent aliens have landed! Enjoy the ride!

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  14. TopTop #11
    tezor's Avatar
    tezor
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Switzerland has sirens, I have been there, and conversed with firefighters in Zermatt. That village/resort use's "sirens" (several locations) and pagers for fire calls, as well as avalanche warnings. The warning is just the siren going off and staying in the upper frequencies so there is a notable difference in the sound, alerting the population to the potential avalanche. Hope that helps.
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  15. TopTop #12
    pjay
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    I lived in Graton for a 4 years, in San Francisco for over 18, and up here outside Sebastopol for the last 20 years. In all that time, a siren has been part of the life scene, particularly the noon time siren. Maybe I'm nuts but it gives me a bit of comfort and a sense of continuance to hear it. It kinda of reminds me of when, in the 18th century, in Greenwich England, a flag was hoisted at noon to inform ships in the harbor to set their clocks to the correct time. Additionally, when it goes off on other times, I like to believe that the emergency is being responded to and that because of this, life and property saved.
    I say keep the siren and sorry its would be placed further away from me. In this case, silence is not golden.

    pjay
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  16. TopTop #13

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    I can relate to both sides of this issue. But it brings up something for me that, at the risk of hijacking the thread a little, also could use addressing.

    I read awhile back that the federal gov't provides loans and grants every year to cell companies specifically to address the gross deficiencies of internet and cellular service in rural areas. Unfortunately, it was reported that these companies routinely divert these funds to more urban areas where increased speed and coverage will give them a better profit ratio.

    In fact I wrote a letter of consternation a couple of years ago to the agency, alerting them to the fact that their funds were not being used as allocated, and that rural and semi-rural areas were being left woefully underserved. In return I received a letter not acknowledging the misuse of the funds but specifying two programs:
    "Rural Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program"
    and
    "Community-Oriented Connectivity Broadband Grant Program" (which specifically states as one of its targets public safety organizations.)

    I was pointed to info about the programs' funding here:
    www.usda/rus/telecom/index.htm
    And for concerns about service or rates I was directed here:
    www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/

    I received this info from [email protected], in a letter signed by James M Andrew, Administrator of Utilities Programs, from the Office of the Secretary of Agricuture

    Now, what if the telecommunications companies were required by law to work with local fire departments to determine which areas needed coverage for their specific purposes, and to install it without delay with the funds from these grants/loans? What if the Fire Depts themselves put up a stink and caused these or some other federal agency to require service for public safety? We are, after all, a decade into the 21st century, and the first order of business with technology might better be prioritized here, rather than for every urban teens' need to constantly check facebook.....

    Just some thoughts. It seems totally implausible that service could not be upgraded immediately as a matter of public and community safety.
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  18. TopTop #14
    heresbruce's Avatar
    heresbruce
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    One morning a few Sundays ago, I was meditating in Graton when i heard the siren. I was startled for less than a moment, as i would be with a kiss or a poke unexpected, and then felt it as a clarion call to services, much like hearing church bells: what an amazing service, that people are willing to be ready to help neighbors in an emergency. Over the past 62 years I have lived primarily in urban and suburban areas, but when possible spent time in rural areas, usually at relatives farms or friends homes in the county. There is a need to adapt to either locale. For the past 20 years I worked as a social worker for an agency involved in caring for children and families and had to take turns being "on-call" to respond to emergencies. Also for the past 20 years I have lived in Occidental and spent my leisure time in the west county, where my cell phone and pager sometimes did not work, so unfortunately I missed calls (rarely) for a crisis a family was having or a child in grave danger. Thankfully, law enforcement with radios were, not necessarily the best solution but a temporary fix. For the Graton volunteer responders, firefighters and EMTs, sometimes working out in the fields or woods, a siren is a way of letting them know when they are needed, NOW!!! For folks moving to this area from the city or more suburban areas, please adapt. For the people bothered by the siren, I suggest a 12-step observation: "what you resist persists". In other words, as you hear the siren as a bother, it is. Possibly some can never not be annoyed by it. I had the mixed good fortune to live in southern Alabama in 1960 for a year, before moving to California. I am sure that in that small town, after integration laws were passed, some white folks were really annoyed that colored people shared the same public space, could sit on the same toilet they sat on, and probably still feel that way. Others had the wisdom to see the rules imposed on them by a few government people actually were for the benefit of all, and the true small minority were those who rankled at the inconvenience. May your house never catch on fire, or you never have a medical emergency, but if it happens, thank the volunteer responders for being there as quick as possible!
    heresbruce
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  20. TopTop #15
    Graton Fire's Avatar
    Graton Fire
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Hi All,

    Thanks for everyone's comments. The best way to share thoughts and get answers to questions on the siren, or any other fire business, is through the Fire Board Meetings (2nd Tuesdays @ 7:30pm) or the Citizen Advisory Committee (3rd Tuesdays @ 6pm). It is true that, we have turned off the siren for non-emergency calls to reduce how often it is used.

    For anyone interested on the new station progress- we are doing our best to post a daily picture through the website, www.gratonfire.com. The frame will be done by Thanksgiving and the roof/walls by Christmas... then they start on the inside. It should be done by Spring 2011.

    Christmas Tree Farm opens next Friday and runs Thu-Sun until Christmas. Blood Drive is on 12/4 in the afternoon.

    Thanks,


    Bill Bullard, Deputy Chief
    Graton Fire Protection District
    3205 Ross Road, P.O. Box A
    Graton, CA 95444
    mailto:[email protected]
    https://www.gratonfire.com
    707-823-5515 ext. 3
    707-823-7251 fax
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  22. TopTop #16
    robin bens
     

    Re: PD: Graton Fire Department to look at alternatives to controversial siren

    Our Family has lived in the Forestville Town Community for the last 42 years. The siren is just who we are. Every day at Noon, it reminds us to stop for lunch. Every call-in to the statation reminds our dear dedicated Volunteer Firefighters to head on down to the station to serve their duty. Without our Siren, Graton and the surrounding Communities would lose a big part of their heritiage. PLEASE, KEEP OUR SIREN!
    Robin
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