The History of the Smithers Noon Siren
Keeping the noon siren around was up for debate at the last Smithers town council meeting. The old air raid siren has been going off at noon for decades and many residents weren't ready to give that up.
The siren is actually a test, so in case of an emergency the fire department knows that it is working. There has been some concern if the effectiveness of the siren would be lost since locals hear it daily. Mayor Taylor Bachrach says, “It's actual practical use is to warn people of an emergency and we will need to have that discussion with our fire chief and make sure that the course of action that we chose to take, which is to keep the siren in its place doesn't compromise that ability.”
Former Assistant Fire Chief Larry Miller explains, “If it does ring at noon then in just rings one ring, but if we had a disaster then it would ring continuously up and down for two for three minutes and that would indicate that you should turn on your radios and find out what's happening and in the event of the radio going down we would have to ring the siren just to warn the firemen.”
There are two sirens in Smithers one at the airport and one at the fire hall, both sounding exactly at noon... the siren came in handy before radio's were used to tell firemen of fires, but it had purpose even before that. Miller says “They had just about 200 men here with planes and that's when the air raid horn came in because in event of the attack on Canada then we would have warning...” But as of now the noon siren helps people keep track of the time. Fergus Tomlin explains how resident might use it to tell time, “Many people plan their working day around it and they know when they hear that that it's time for lunch or whatever they have to do and they arrange and that sets the day up. In today's time a lot of forget that keeping time is not always about having a wrist watch and having your cell phone to check on that time it is.”
Social media played a large role in keeping the siren. Smithers Councillor Phil Brienesse says he got a fair amount of comments on Facebook, “Sometime I post things on Facebook and get much feedbacks at all and this was something where I received over a hundred comments and it's talk in the public a lot, so it's neat to have an issue that actually gets the electric engaged.”
For long time residents this is just a part of their daily lives and something that should stick around.