Background on Emergency Sirens

Learn why emergency vehicles use sirens — and what you can do in West Roxbury if they bother you.


During the last week West Roxbury Patch presented two quizzes about Boston sirens. Here's the first quiz and here's the second quiz. And keep an eye for the third quiz coming soon...

Now how about some background on sirens:

Of the five human senses, hearing alerts the brain to danger most quickly.   "Hearing is considered to be a primary warning sense," according to the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. "A loud auditory signal may exert an immediate arousing effect."  For this reason, emergency vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, and police cars, sound high decibel sirens to alert motorists and pedestrians to move out of the way. 

When the sounds of the day have quieted and buses and trains have ceased to run, sirens disrupt the stillness, drawing much more notice than during the day.  

Until recently, all forms of emergency vehicles used the Q2B siren. Now, only fire engines carry the Q2B siren, which wails and yelps at 123 decibles. Police cars and ambulances typically use electric sirens.

If you are upset about the loudness of sirens as they pass by your street, one of the best ways to get involved is to contact the . Sirens are often discussed in planning meetings that address noise issues.


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