Noisy fire truck sirens outlawed as kinder, gentler sirens sweep country

Blaring, wailing sirens are being replaced with a polite request to move

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NEW YORK — After a five-year study, a leading research group has concluded that loud, blaring sirens on fire trucks are ineffective at getting cars to clear a path. On the heels of this study, NFPA is rolling out a new standard for apparatus sirens.

The new standard does away with the familiar wails, chirps and screams and replaces them with a soothing British aristocratic voice that nicely asks motorists to please move aside.

"In an age where people are exposed to persistent shouting by everyone from radio shock jocks to Bill O’Reilly, the standard blaring siren no longer has an alerting effect," said lead researcher Gottebie Kiddenme. "With the success of Downton Abbey, we figured the public might respond better to a gentler tact from a bygone era of civility."

The first generation of new sirens will cycle through four politely spoken requests:

  • "Excuse me, pardon me, excuse, pardon me, pardon, pardon."
  • "Oops. Sorry, sorry, can I just slip by?"
  • "So terribly sorry to inconvenience, but coming by on your left."
  • "Can you scooch just a bit that way? Thanks so much."

The second generation of polite sirens will feature native language translation capabilities, allowing firefighters to more elegantly communicate via the public address system, allowing them to deliver more pleasing requests for assistance.

For example, an officer may grab the microphone at a particularly busy intersection to get the attention of a motorist. If the officer said, "Hey you f*$@ing idiot. Move your a@$ out of the way," the translation would be, "I'm terribly sorry to bother you, good sir, in order to avoid an almighty palaver, could you please budge out of the way a tad? Thanks so much, toodle-pip!"

The developers have hired the voice actor Anthony Daniels, best known for his work as C3PO in the Star Wars series, for the new system. They had initially tested the system with Denis Leary in hopes of getting more firefighter buy-in on the new sirens, but found that more people were inspired to aggressively chain smoke than comply with instructions to clear the road.

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