FROSTBURG - Gary Tummino, corporate secretary for the Frostburg Volunteer Fire Department, said the decision was made to silence the sirens in the city between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. because firefighters are at home where they will hear a call on either a scanner or pager.

"During the day, though, we have volunteers who dig ditches and ride the backs of garbage trucks and they are not going to carry a $300 pager with them and risk damaging or losing it," said Tummino, former chief of the department. "I ran over mine with a lawnmower, so after that I never wore it again when cutting the grass. I didn't have access to it when swimming either."

There are four sirens in town, one atop each of the stations on Water and Main streets, one on West Mechanic Street almost to High Street, and the one on South Grant Street. All four activate for the 200 to 300 fire calls the company receives annually, according to Tummino.

Tummino said the siren beside Todd and Laura Sunderhaus' 12 S. Grant St. home was shut down for a while after the family's initial complaint.

"We shut it down while we got a legal opinion, but reactivated it once it was determined its use was appropriate," Tummino said. He said he does not believe the fire company has ever measured the level of sound at any of the sirens.

Tummino said a lot of city residents like to know that the siren is working. "When I was chief, people would call me when they weren't hearing the siren, wanting to make sure it was working properly."

Tummino said the fire company teaches school children that when they hear a siren to make sure they remain in the yard and away from the street because emergency vehicles could be approaching.

The Sunderhaus family has asked the fire department to somehow reduce the noise level of the siren, which they say has been measured at 119 decibels.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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