European sirens could change the soundscape of New York

A typical New York City ambulance
A typical New York City ambulance Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Mark Armstrong with AP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Complaints of noise pollution have led to a proposal for the famous New York City emergency sirens to be replaced with the European version.


If you have ever been to New York City you will be familiar with the constant sound of sirens.

Day and night, the sharp, high-pitched wail reminds you of where you are. It's been part of the city's soundtrack for generations.

But it seems many New Yorkers have had enough.

Residents are telling the city authorities the sirens have become too much, and they are turning to Europe for the solution, or at least a compromise.

Two city councillors have proposed that the European siren sound is adopted across the city.

"The proposal is to have all emergency vehicles, whether it be an ambulance, a fire truck, or even a police car change the tone of their siren from one monotonous high pitch noise to a high low pattern," explained New York City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.

Noise is one of the most frequent complaints to the city's hotline and sirens are near the top of the list, keeping people awake and causing dogs to howl.

Sirens are alarming for a reason — to highlight an emergency.

But Ricardo Mendoza, EMS assistant director of the Mount Sinai Health System, does not see any compromise to safety by adopting the same sounds as London or Paris.

"In order to alleviate some of the complaints in regards to noise pollution throughout the city, especially in the vicinity of the hospital we have adapted what is considered the European style siren," he said.

"I believe they are equally as safe, the decibels are not different, it is just a break in tone that I think people are reacting to, which make it seem like it is actually lower than it really is."

If approved in a council vote — which has yet to be scheduled — the legislation would require sirens on all emergency vehicles to transition within a two-year period.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Watch: Furs aid for four-legged friends as Hong Kong gets pet ambulance service

Nigerian chess champion sets new record with 60-hour marathon

Man sets himself on fire outside Trump trial courthouse in New York