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Pa. fire chief threatened over station’s siren

Chief Lloyd Crago: “We don’t want the fire siren to blow, but when it does, it means somebody needs us.”



YOUNGWOOD, Pa. — Residents annoyed with Youngwood’s emergency siren have been leaving anonymous threatening messages for the borough fire chief and other officials.

Fire Chief and Council President Lloyd Crago said he got a vulgar email about the siren on Oct. 5 at the fire department. A similar voicemail message was left at the department on Sunday. Crago would not provide details about the threatening messages, but said he has asked the state police to investigate.

Another email, questioning how often the siren blows, was sent via email to the borough building on Oct. 6. Crago said his father, Donald, the fire company president, had a run-in with a resident about the siren on a borough street on Saturday.

“We don’t want people threatening us,” the fire chief said.

He defended the use of the siren that alerts firefighters to calls.

“(Westmoreland County) 911 blows it when we have a fire call, not to wake people up in the middle of the night,” Crago said. “We don’t want the fire siren to blow, but when it does, it means somebody needs us.”

Youngwood firefighters also are alerted to emergencies by cellphone, but Crago said that system is “not 100 percent” reliable. The siren alerts firefighters who are away from their cellphones, or when cellular service is out — as when a tornado ripped through Hempfield in 2011, he said.

Beyond that, the siren serves to alert motorists and residents that speeding emergency vehicles might be coming through the borough.

Crago said the department is going out on more calls, which may be the reason residents are becoming more aware of the siren. But it’s not the first time the siren has generated angry, or criminal responses from residents.

In 2011, someone tampered with the siren on South Fourth Street and rendered it silent at least three times. No suspects were identified before the vandalism stopped.

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