Letter to the Editor: Fire Horn Hater

Resident Gideon Rabino writes: "It is very unfortunate that the fire house on Main Street still uses this antiquated World War II technology as an alarm system which consistently deeply startles residents."

This is to express my distress over the severe, and in many Tarrytown residents' opinion, unnecessary noise pollution which I feel is totally avoidable.

It is very unfortunate that the fire house on Main Street still uses this antiquated World War II technology as an alarm system which consistently deeply startles residents, particularly those hundreds of families in the immediate vicinity of the fire house and the adjoining streets. This loud piercing noise which forces you to pause everything you do interferes with quiet dinners at home or in the area restaurants or nice evening strolls, thus deterring many potential shoppers and customers from frequenting our businesses.

More disturbingly, the appallingly piercing sound may wake up the sick, pregnant women, the very young, not to mention most of us who need to get six hours of sleep in order to function in our respective jobs. In ungodly hours such as 2 or 3 am it wakes us, thus impacting the health of many of this quaint village residents.

This is no longer acceptable. It’s time to change this unwelcome tradition. While I support the volunteer firefighters and understand their plight, having myself been in military and public service for the past 45 years, a tax payer and active supporter of the schools and the community at large, I urge the Mayor, the Administrator, the Trustees and the Fire Chief to seek other alternative means of summoning the volunteers to the fire houses.

Many of us bought property in Tarrytown to escape the City with its noises and other stressors and always imagined the Village as a serene and charming historic community that it is. But the constant alarms have turned living into an unpleasant experience for many of us – to the point where some would bail out when the real estate market recovers and intentionally avoid local establishments, seeking instead adjoining communities where their meals wouldn’t be interrupted.

Accordingly, we urge you to consider at a minimum:

  1. Limit the use of the fire alarm to day and evening hours

  2. Review the protocol of its use and use it only in cases of serious threats to life and property

  3. Actively seek alternative means of summoning the volunteers – the technology is out there.

Thanks for your consideration.


Gideon Rabino, Tarrytown


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Annisa Farese March 05, 2014 at 11:18 AM
It's a new year and I'm a new resident of Tarrytown and I thought it about time to star up this conversation again. We just moved to Main Street - what we know now as ground zero for the decibel level of the Tarrytown Fire department. After moving from NYC to escape the noise and get a decent night's sleep in a quite little town, we have been woken up 3 nights of the 5 we have now resided in Tarrytown with a siren song that seems to go on forever. While I understand there are residents that have lived here and long time and don't take kindly to newcomer opinion, they were all newcomers at one time as well, and it's the new crop of residents coming from NYC and beyond that will continue to populate and keep Tarrytown great. This noise is a major hindrance to the most simple real estate principle - right to quiet enjoyment. During the day, it's not a big deal, but in the dead of night it's simply unacceptable. If we were to have a party after 10pm that reached decibel levels of 62 or greater, the cops would surely be called and things would be broken up. There have even been public hearings for generators running at above 55 dba. But for some reason it's okay for the fire department to sound the alarm at all hours of the night. Regarding the pager issue - yes technology fails sometimes. Get a back up for the back up for the back up, but there is no reason to use this horn as a back up when fire department all over the country have found other reliable methods of achieving the same response time. Has anyone ever collected signatures for this? I'm going to record the decibel level of this damn alarm and report back.
Annisa Farese March 05, 2014 at 12:09 PM
I've started a petition - if interested, please sign! https://www.change.org/petitions/village-of-tarrytown-ask-the-village-of-tarrytown-and-mayor-drew-fixell-to-retire-the-tarrytown-firehouse-alarm-ensuring-residents-can-live-and-the-economy-can-grow-in-peace-and-quiet
Derek M. Lacey March 05, 2014 at 12:57 PM
I really do marvel at some of the comments here. My wife and I have lived right across South Washington St. from the fire hall for almost 20 years and it is long past time for Tarrytown to step into the 21st century. If the horn is needed as backup great keep it and test it once or twice a month, but its time to invest in a newer system that takes into account all those who live and work near the station. I can tell you from first hand experience that I have seen children with parents coming down the sidewalk in tears after the horn goes off scaring them and likely hurting their ears. I know it hurts my ears and I am deaf in one and have lost hearing in my "good" ear. Someone should track the decibel level as it seems harmful to me. What is even more disagreeable is the fact that often times especially during major sporting events "training" sessions are held where the fire horn goes off one or more times then the trucks race up the hill to the Tarrytown Lakes parking lot where they sit for a few minutes then make the trip back to the station just in time for the game. Simple fact is there are other more modern systems that could be used for 90 percent or more of the time that would not cause the ongoing disruption of people's lives. The old system should be kept, but only as a backup to be used when all else fails. Fact two: the fire station does not belong on Main Street at all considering the large increase in both car and pedestrian traffic since EF and all the building has been going on. Having huge fire trucks racing up Main Street is dangerous at best and it is likely only a matter of time before someone is run down. Centralize the three or more stations that already exist within a few blocks of each other down by the new city hall and install something newer to call the volunteers to the station that doesn't turn everyone's live into a nightmare of lack of sleep etc.
Alisa Orta May 02, 2014 at 01:03 AM
I recently moved into Irvington. I seem to be hearing these horns at night and wondering what it could be. I don't think it's from Tarrytown? Could there be one in my town too? It's AWFUL and makes me want to move back out! Luckily, our plan was to rent for a year while we look to sell our home and purchase a new one. I don't want to live in a place that has this crazy horn that wakes me and my CHILDREN up at least twice a night! Augh!


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