New York City Council Members Want to Dial Down Sirens


The piercing wail of an ambulance, the one that disturbs sleep and triggers dogs to howl, should be replaced with the more European, two-tone sound, according to New York City council members who are expected this week to introduce legislation that would mandate a citywide siren change.

The bill, drafted by council members Carlina Rivera and Helen Rosenthal, would give police, fire, ambulance and other emergency vehicles two years to transfer over to a system with the two-tone siren, which is sometimes called a “Hi Lo” siren. The local law would also set the maximum siren sound level.

Ms. Rivera, a Democrat representing the East Village, Gramercy Park and Flatiron neighborhoods in Manhattan, said noise pollution is a major health concern. Emergency vehicles, she said, are important for alerting people, but there needs to be a balance. “People’s main concern is being able to sleep,” she said.

Already the city has in the last decade taken measures to reduce noise pollution, including adding the lower-frequency “Rumbler”-style sirens to all New York City Police Department vehicles. That siren, which can be felt as a vibration, is being rolled out on New York City Fire Department vehicles and is mandatory along with a typical wailing or “yelp” siren sound for new vehicles.


Read more at Wall Street Journal




  1. While they are at it – they should dim the lights too! it’s dangerous to have such blinding lights at the side of the highways at night! We never had a problem seeing the lights before the ‘upgrade’


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