BENNINGTON, Neb. — Firefighters will no longer be called to duty with a siren that sounds across the entire Omaha suburb of Bennington, because the volunteers can be alerted using more modern, quieter means, the fire chief said.
The city siren now will alert people only to weather or civil defense warnings, according to the Omaha World-Herald .
Fire Chief Ben Tysor said Bennington has used the siren to alert fire volunteers since 1970, but that these days the department can use pagers, smartphone alerts and radios to do the same.
The fire and rescue siren had been used between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and was expected to sound 800 times this year, Tysor said, including an ear-splitting nine times on a recent Saturday.
“I know the mayor had gotten some complaints,” the chief said. “For people who work nights and little kids trying to nap, the siren is pretty disturbing.”
Also, he said, the growing city of 1,600 has been getting more visitors for sporting and other events.
“They didn’t know if there was a tornado or what was happening” when the siren went off, Tysor said.
More than 10,000 other people live in surrounding sanitary and improvement districts that depend on Bennington services, Mayor Matt John said, noting that the siren had been confusing for some of them as well.
“It went off so much that I think some people were desensitized to it, and if you have a tornado, that’s not good,” John said. “We let people know (about the change) on social media, and the overwhelming number of people said, ‘That’s great.’ “
The silence that went into effect Aug. 11 has had no impact on response times, Tysor said, because many of the volunteers live outside the city and already relied on pagers and smartphone alerts.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com