Schoharie’s volunteer fire department is expected to sound its siren at noon today for the first time since the village was evacuated in the face by flooding last August.
Niagara Engine Co. No. 6 President Martin Shrederis said the department is publicizing its plans for a noontime test to avoid scaring residents who haven’t heard the siren in more than nine months.
“We want people to be aware that the siren is going to be blowing again when we have a fire call,” he said.
This weekend’s sounding follows the completion of repairs last month to a set of 20 sirens that make up the Gilboa Dam failure warning system. Shrederis said the fire department’s siren is situated on the same utility pole but has a different sound than the dam sirens.
The village’s firehouse was among dozens of buildings overwhelmed by the Schoharie Creek when it flooded from Tropical Storm Irene rainfall.
“After the flood, that side of the radio communications in the firehouse was gone, so we couldn’t program the siren to blow fire tones,” Shrederis said.
The siren will be tested Saturdays at noon but will also sound each time firefighters are called out for an emergency. It’s controlled by the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department’s 911 dispatch center, Shrederis said.
Schoharie County Fire Coordinator Matt Brisley, a member of Niagara Engine Co. No. 6, said firefighters don’t rely on the siren as much as in past years because they all have pagers. Some departments now send mass texts to firefighters to alert them to a call.
But the siren is also seen as an important alert to those in the community, he said.
“Even the kids in the neighborhood, they know when the siren goes off to be a little bit extra careful. That means the fire trucks will be coming,” Brisley said.
He believes the siren is the final piece of equipment that has been missing from fire departments in the county since Irene and Lee.