There is presently no standard for the maximum decibel sound of emergency service sirens and the noise emitted carries so far from the source that people for up to half a mile can be emotionally affected by the alarm. The only people who should hear the emergency siren are those who are in close proximity to be warned of imminent danger.
Over the past few years the NAS has received many calls on our helpline relating to the incredibly loud and increasing frequency of emergency service sirens (ESS). The current siren noises are excessive, scar the aural environment and negatively affect the health and wellbeing of local residents, road users as well as the paramedics and patients inside the emergency vehicle.
Broadband Sound Technology
Two years ago the NAS engaged with a manufacturer to produce a prototype broadband ESS which led to initiating trials of this alternative siren sound with the police and fire service in Sussex. These trials proved the important point that the sound penetrated enough to be heard inside the car in front, even with the in-car sound system blaring.
Broadband sound technology utilises a directional white noise so only those who need to hear it are alerted to the approaching emergency vehicle. This technology has already been very successful in reversing alarms on large vehicles as part of our ‘Quietening the Streets’ campaign.
The excessive noise produced by ESS is a very difficult subject to raise through the media because sympathy lies with the emergency service personnel who are doing a grand job and carrying out their important duties. This is also why the issue does not receive the attention it deserves from the authorities.
Campaign for Change
The problem moving forward lies in the cost of research needed to evidence the health and safety aspect, the fact that emergency services are in separate silos all over the country, an inherent unwillingness for change – and then of course, there is the cost of replacing the alarms, although the manufacturer assures that the cost of changing the sirens should not be prohibitive and a simple operation to substitute new for old.
The NAS would like to take forward a campaign to change these necessary, but not fit for purpose, alarms. Political will is needed to cause a change to happen all over the UK.
Actions that can help raise political support are by raising awareness through social media and writing letters to newspapers, local MPs and the home office. Please cc NAS in any correspondence so we can support you if necessary.