Jul 30, 2014

Local FD's Split Over Sounding Alarms for Newtown Victims

Some fire departments may sound their alarms 26 times tomorrow morning in memory of last week's shooting. Others say it may cause panic.

Local FD's Split Over Sounding Alarms for Newtown Victims

On the one week anniversary of the Newtown school shooting, vigils and various acts of remembrance for the victims will take place, such as the ringing of church bells, in communities around the nation.

Some local fire departments are expected to participate by sounding their alarms 26 times at 9:45 a.m. Others, fearing stresses it may cause on people unaware of the ceremony – as well as dispatchers – during a week many are already on edge, have decided not to participate.

In addition, Friday marks the day the Mayans predicted the world would end.

The Suffolk County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services sent out a memo to all county fire departments on Thursday noting that they could, if they chose to, sound their alarms 26 times on Friday morning at 9:45 in honor of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy and as a way to honor fellow firefighters and EMS personnel.

, with a moment of silence beginning at 9:30 a.m. No formal remarks are expected to be given.

Bridgehampton Fire Department Chief Gary Horsburg said the department will not be sounding their alarms, citing the chaos it might cause for individuals unaware of the exercies. The result could be an unecessary stress on dispatchers, clogging lines when serious incidents may be occurring.

Sag Harbor Fire Chief Pete Garypie agreed. "If we start blowing the sirens 26 times, 911 isn't going to be able to take all the calls they'll be getting," he said.

But North Sea Fire Department was still on the fence as of Thursday evening –Chief Bill Rosko called it a "great thing" – and is awaiting approval from its Board of Fire Commissioners.

Southampton Fire Capt. Chris Brenner said Chief Chip Pierson had not received any information from FRES as of yet and was not aware of any details.

To the west, East Quogue Fire Department and Quogue chiefs have confirmed that they will have volunteers sound their alarms.

Joe Williams, the commissioner of Suffolk FRES, said his department is not advocating for the commemoration, but that the memo was sent out on behalf of fire departments that said they wanted to do it.

"We're not telling them to do it. We have no authority to tell them do it," Williams said.

"Naturally everybody is concerned," he said that people won't know what the sirens are for exactly.He hoped the departments will spread the word.

"I know for a fact that not every department is participating."

Taylor Vecsey and Erica Jackson contributed to this report.

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