I'm being somewhat sarcastic here, but some neighbors have organized a couple of community meetings to complain about the noise generated by emergency vehicles from the 14th and Monroe street firehouse. See the flyer above. They invited DC fire chief Kenneth Ellerbe and people from Councilmember Graham and Mendelson to come, plus ANC commish Pat Flynn.
Now I do agree that fire trucks are noisy -- but that's the whole idea. People are supposed to hear them so they get out of the way and the trucks are able to go as quickly as possible to put out the fire or administer medical care.
I also admit that I don't live next to a firehouse and I'm sure it can get tiresome to hear sirens all the time. But at the same time, if you live next to a firehouse, you should expect some fire truck sounds, just as if you live next to a hospital you'll hear ambulances, or if you live next to an airport you will probably hear some planes flying. That's living in a city. And it's not like this fire station just opened a week ago and it would be a surprise to residents -- it opened in 1895! That's 118 years that people should have known that a fire station is nearby.
I'm sure it's annoying, but to me there are much bigger issues out there than fire trucks that are supposed to be loud being loud. What's next, people being mad that ambulances drive fast? That coffee is hot? (Ok, I guess that is already an issue.)
Feel free to disagree in the comments or let me know what you think if you live in that area. Personally, I always thought that Zeba Bar, across from the fire station, should have a special drink deal when the fire truck siren goes off, $1 beers or something. That would be pretty fun.
UPDATE: Maryam, the organizer, just wrote me in response to an email. Here's what she had to say.
People do argue that [if you're living near a fire house, you'll hear sirens] and they also have many other good arguments for why everyone should just tolerate the noise. We all understand that we live near a firehouse and of course we want our tax dollars to be put to good use, so some level of noise is inevitable. However, the noise has recently gone from present to omnipresent and oppressive.
At this point, the narrow issue we want to eliminate is the excessive use of Monroe Street as a main east-west thoroughfare for the emergency vehicles and the related increase in sirens and noise. After quite a bit of investigation, we believe - although at our community meetings we may find out otherwise - that there are two relatively simple fixes.
First, the new medians on 14th Street just north of Park Road must be removed because they 1) create more traffic that 2) forces some of the emergency vehicles to use Monroe Street because they cannot get down the other east-west streets quickly enough. Second, there are several new spots on our narrow street that were added in January that make it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through the narrow street, which is not ideal for them or for us because it causes them to lay on their horns and turn sirens on sooner and longer to try to get people out of the way.
By the way, since we started this small effort to get everyone in our neighborhood together to speak with our elected officials and relevant agency officials, I have received emails from people all over the city who also are harmed by and tired of the excessive noise. If you have visited other cities or even other more affluent parts of our own city, you surely have noticed that the type and level of noise is significantly less. In the balance of citizens' right to be free from noise pollution with the community's need for safety, the citizens' voices are not being heard. We seek to strike a better balance between emergency services and citizens.
I am by no means an expert, but I do know that we barely get a full night's sleep and that our son is scared of the sirens, wakes up from naps and in the middle of the night crying from the excessive sirens, and these noises also interfere with enjoyment of our beautiful neighborhood and the beautiful park on 11th and Monroe. We have the right to enjoy our property and our neighborhood, and we will not tolerate this noise any longer.