Firetruck Sirens

Manhattan is one noisy island, that much is true. With traffic and horns, helicopters above and subway trains below, some of the most expressive people in the world discussing announcing their life’s issues in a matter-of-fact stentorian voice commanding attention wherever they may happen to be, lousy wall soundproofing and crazy neighbours, clubs and private parties going on into or – worse – starting in the wee hours, New York is the very definition of the city that doesn’t sleep. But the noise that stands out above all to my untrained ear is the loud, penetrating sound of the Sirens. And the most penetrating one of all, the FDNY truck Blazing Siren.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fervent admirer of the oftentimes heroic efforts of New York’s Bravest and Best rushing to the rescue, fighting not only with fire but all kinds of hazards relative to such incidents. What strikes me as odd is the frequency and number of these sizable trucks speeding around, all blazing sirens and air horns, for calls that may be of inversely proportional gravity.

I took these pictures as an example: on an otherwise ”quiet” afternoon the – by now familiar – deafening sound coming from at least four fire trucks; they rush past, stop around the corner, one firefighter gets out of the truck and into a building; the other trucks wait for a while, then drive off and disappear.

How do they respond to calls? I wonder. How is the level of alarm determined and the dispatch coordinated? Is it necessary to dispatch so many trucks when there is no fire or major gas leak? Whatever the answer, one thing is sure: our world is safer with them around, they are an integral part of our daily lives, a part for which we are grateful.

If only their sirens weren’t so loud…
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September 17th, 2016