Summer in Long Beach. The gentle lapping of waves. The graceful squawking of seagulls. The car horns, the yelling, and the sirens of firefighters, police, and other emergency responders rushing up and down congested roads.It might not be everyone’s idea of a relaxing way to spend the summer, but it’s an unavoidable fact of life here. So when a car is double parked on Broadway, I’m sure we’ve all heard a fire engine laying on the klaxon to get the otherwise oblivious driver out of the way. But if you’re like me, you’ve heard something different latley. From my perspective, it started around May.
It was a strange ethereal rise and fall of a noise that sounded like a mix between a car alarm whose battery was running low and some sort of Close Encounter with the Third Kind. Immediately drawn to the sound, I looked out the window to see none of the above, but instead an ambulance zipping by.
So, I finally gave the LBFD a ring to get to the bottom of this alarming story.
When Long Beach Fire Chief Richard Corbett first heard the new alarm, he asked himself “is that a cat dying?” He too, found the alarm quite odd, but got passed the noise quickly because of its results.
Corbett said recent studies have shown this sound to be far more effective at getting people’s attention and at cutting through other noises – perhaps a teen driver blasting the latest Ga or whatever else the youths are listening too. And he says he’s seen it work, “it just grabs your attention.” And that’s the point.
The new siren starts off with the weird new noise, but can also transition into the normal alert siren we’re all used to.
Right now, the siren is only on Long Beach’s brand new primary-responding ambulance, but by the sounds of it, most ambulances and fire trucks may have alarm systems like this in the future. At least we don’t have the new alarm system being used in other parts of the country, the rumbler. Love it or hate it, the new sound is here to stay.
So what do you think about this siren: irritating or alerting?