Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department
A Brief History

Emergency Alert Siren

The sound of the emergency siren has been a fixture in Gerrittsen Beach for almost a century. From the early days of manually-rung bells to the era of air horns and modern automated systems, the siren has been more than just a loud noise—it has been the heartbeat of a community on the alert. It is a symbol of readiness, a call to action, and an assurance that the Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department is always there, prepared to respond to any emergency.

As we bid farewell to our venerable air horn in October 2020, and welcome new technologies into our alert system, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the history and evolution of this iconic signal.

The transition from the air horn to a modern siren system is more than a technological upgrade; it is a continuation of a long-standing tradition of community alertness and emergency preparedness. The siren’s wail is the sound of a community that looks out for its own, of first responders rushing to help, and of a tradition that will carry on for years to come.

We may have said goodbye to our old air horn, but its spirit lives on in every wail of the new siren, in every firefighter’s swift response, and in every resident’s sense of safety and community. Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding as we adapt and grow in our mission to serve you better.

If you have any historical information about the sirens or bells used in the past, we would love to hear from you. Your contributions will help us preserve the rich history of the Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department’s emergency alert systems.

Thank you for your patience and support.. Together, we look forward to continuing to serve our community in the years to come.

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Emergency Alert Siren


Founded in 1922

The Early Days

Bells and Sirens The Gerrittsen Beach community was founded in 1922, and from its inception, the Fire Department has played a crucial role in the area’s safety. In the early days, large bells were used to alert the firefighters and the community to emergencies. As technology evolved, so did the means of sounding the alarm.

Founded in 1922

Over 60 years

The Air Horn Era

For over 60 years, an air horn mounted on the roof of the Fire Department building served as the primary alert mechanism. This horn was a staple in the community, and its sound became synonymous with urgent action. The horn was part of the Fire Department’s identity, as well as an integral part of the community’s daily life.

Over 60 years

Advanced System

Modern Times

By 2020, the air horn had aged significantly and faced retirement due to the reconstruction of the firehouse roof. In its place, a 29ft Rohn 45G antenna tower and a Federal Signal Directional Speaker Array were installed, modernizing the department’s emergency notification capabilities. This state-of-the-art system is independent, requiring no radio, internet, phone, or dedicated power source to function.

Advanced System
Learn more

Operational Insights

Hours of Operation
The new system operates between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM, with exceptions made for major emergencies like house fires, flooding, or evacuations.

Notification Signals
In normal circumstances, the system will sound three wails to indicate an emergency, replicating the function of the old air horn.

The Pull Box
The pull box outside the firehouse has been modified to trigger the new siren system, offering a tactile, manual method for alerting the Fire Department to an emergency.

Cultural Significance
For many residents, the siren represents more than just an alert system. It’s a part of the community’s identity—a historical constant in a world of change. The sound of the siren, in all its various forms, has marked moments of crisis and celebration alike. It has summoned firefighters to duty and told residents that their community is protected.

The Future
As we continue to serve Gerrittsen Beach, the Fire Department remains committed to utilizing the best available technology to protect the community. The new siren system, although different in sound, carries the same weight of responsibility as its predecessors.

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Gerrittsen Beach 100 Years