Miami — Or Westport? — Vice

Alert “06880” reader Andrea Rourke writes:

With so many sirens all the time, this town is starting to sound like “Miami Vice.”

My 5-year-old son asked me, “Mommy, why are there sirens all the time here?  I thought this wasn’t New York City.”

Not to mention some out-of-town guests, who were honed at 3 times in 1 day while visiting us.

Great points, Andrea!

“06880” readers:  If you’ve got any thoughts on sirens and horns, give a yell.

Loudly, please.  We want to hear you.

11 responses to “Miami — Or Westport? — Vice

  1. How odd. I occasionally hear them, mostly when the sirens are coming from the Turnpike or I am downtown, where traffic is heavy and drivers need the alert.

    Dan, rather than tag this under “noise pollution,” I’d suggest “public safety.”

  2. Sensible One

    Of late, we do seem to have more sirens than usual, but we’ve also had more than our fair share of accidents near exit 17 on I 95 and the Merritt.

  3. Since I have Superman ears, it is a factor of noise pollution to me. The fire engines are the worst. Sounds like a bomb alert in London during World War II. I am sure the firemen would argue that cars do not get out of their way but it seems “over-the-top” on the decimeters. The police are quite good unless there is a sale at Dunkin Donuts. Actually, the very worst is the Latino music played from every new construction in town. Ouch!

  4. I wonder about this, too. I live near South Compo, and assume at least some of the sirens are headed for the beach, in the summer.

  5. The main reason for this is the fire department’s policy for responding to “automatic” alarms. Westport, being a wealthy community, has many homes (and businesses) with automated smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors (when they sound, they alert some far-away alarm company who then contacts the fire department). These have a tendency to malfunction or be activated unintentionally, resulting in an fire engine and the “Chief’s car” (that pretty red SUV with all the lights) to respond with all those sirens. If it’s a commercial location, the ladder truck is also sent (with lights and sirens).

    The most recent statistics from the Fire Department ( are from 2005, but they are interesting:
    992 calls are classified as an alarm activation with no fire (either a system malfunction or an actual smoke condition… it’s hard to tell from the one-line description). All of these resulted in an engine and the chief’s SUV responding with their lights and sirens (on average more than twice a day!)
    Only 64 calls resulted in an actual building fire (this includes small fires as well as very involved ones).
    It is unclear how many automatic alarms turned out to be actual fires.

    The fire department also responds with all its sirens to reports of accidents on I-95 or the Merritt. Most calls get an engine (or two), the rescue truck and the chief’s car.

    The police department is slightly more judicious in its use of sirens (they do not respond with sirens to automatic burglar alarms).

    Police dispatchers decide whether or not to send EMS, police and fire with their sirens to medical emergencies based on what they get on the phone. EMS usually sends two vehicles (an ambulance and the paramedic SUV). The police department sends one car (or two, if their is a possible safety issue). The fire department usually sends the rescue truck or the closest engine. That’s a lot of sirens coming from all over the place!

  6. Westporter

    We are complaining about sirens now… Would we rather have peace and quiet, and increased responce times for emergency services, or a quick responce? Westport is no longer the bucolic country retreat it used to be. We have two major highways that travel through the town. I-95 is one of the busiest roads in the country. There is going to be a fair share of accidents when over 100,000 vehicles travel it daily. We are also not a small town anymore, last I checked nearly 30,000 people live here, Fairfield County is growing as well. Their is ample traffic on all roads throughout the day that requires sirens to be used alot to clear people out of the way.
    Very nice explanation “overkill?” but I disagree with your pen name… I didn’t actually think people were this worried about the sounds of the modern world around them. Whats next, complaining about train horns, or truck on 95 in the middle of the night?

  7. Innocent Bystander

    Yeah, it is called noise pollution and along with other forms of destruction of this planet, it is needs to be monitored. The Big Apple has strict guidelines on all such noise pollution and they certainly have far more people than the metropolis of Fairfield County. Lord, that is why we live here for the quiet!

  8. Native Westporter

    Apparently, “Westporter” above does not remember the State Police barracks that was where Walgreens is now adjacent to the “Turnpike” connector. Those guys would fly out of there with their sirens blaring on calls from the Merritt, down Roseville and Cross Highway all the time. Time response? I do not need a bugle call to wake me up in the morning. A nice quiet alarm is sufficient and should be also for any driver to pull off. That is, of course, if they ain’t yapping on the cellphone or eating or maybe actually paying attention to the road. Of course if that was true, there probably wouldn’t be the number of accidents. Dog chasing its own tail. You haven’t lived here very long “Westporter” if you are complaining about people complaining. It is in the water supply!!

    • Native born… and the family has been here for a a century or so as well…
      I’m used to the fact that people in this town will complain at the drop of the hat. But this is getting absurd… emergency sirens, noise pollution? That’s stretching it a bit, don’t you think?What really is noise pollution is the armada of lawn workers that everybody needs just to get their lawn cut. Mowers, blowers and trimmers, all at once!
      What is a “quiet” alarm going to do when said person has either the radio blasting or is too engrossed in their cell phone converstation?Modern cars are also mini vaults, they purposely block out noise. No quiet alarm is going to get through double laminated glass.

      If people really don’t want to deal with an occassional siren then… move to the Northeast Kingdom Vermont!
      Next I’m going to hear that property values are being lowered because of the fact that local emergency organizations actually have to respond to calls.
      Maybe Dan should start a “what really grind’s Westport’s Gears” blog.
      P.S. Blame the past citizens of Westport and Fairfield for blocking progress and never building what was intended for exit 43 on the parkway

  9. Native Westporter

    Interesting comment. My mother was from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and still have property up there. They actually have banned grass “blowers” because of the noise pollution. Of course, they are also 40% inbred so you may take that with a grain of salt. I believe it was the GE head, years back, that talked them out of an Exit 43 on the Merritt if I am not mistaken. He lived up around there. I think “06880” is much like the blog you recommend. Many salty exchanges go on here and I welcome it. But I do think that the loud irritating sound of especially fire trucks is way over the top. We disagree but I have never had an emergency call to my house or scene of an accident. Thus, I am biased.