- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A fire department siren in Leonardtown has been turned down and its two horns facing the Singletree neighborhood have gone silent, the town’s mayor said this week, but a 90-day trial run of the changes to the emergency alert system haven’t resolved at least one resident’s concerns.
“We’ve got some dialogue going now, and that’s what it’s all about,” Mayor Dan Burris said at Monday’s meeting of the town council, noting a letter from the fire department that the volunteer organization “agreed to lower the volume” on the siren and disconnect the two horns.
Thomas A. Mattingly Sr., a longtime Leonardtown firefighter who attended the council meeting, said afterward that while most firefighters now have pagers to receive word of an emergency, the siren still serves a vital purpose.
“It’s still our second alternative, of an alerting device,” Mattingly said.
The town’s rescue squad discontinued its use of a siren system years ago, he said.
Mark Berntsen, a Singletree resident, said Tuesday from his home that it is too soon to tell if the changes are satisfactory, in part because the issue included whether the siren’s signal should be reserved for emergencies that area residents all need to heed, such as severe weather.
“We still have safety issue concerns, .... [about] what the siren is being used for,” Berntsen said. If the siren only went off to warn the public of possible danger, he said, “people would pay attention.”
Brian Buker, the vice president of Singletree’s homeowners association, wrote on Tuesday evening that some of the community’s residents have taken part in working with the town’s mayor, the St. Mary’s county commissioners, the county’s emergency management and technology office and the fire department to find a satisfactory resolution that does not deter the firefighters’ mission. Buker wrote that the fire department “has been cooperative and is making some changes, and we feel that things are moving in the right direction.”
In other business at Monday’s meeting, council members adopted a new code of ethics that town Administrator Laschelle McKay later said complies with the state’s new requirements. The town’s original personnel policy from 1982 was updated in 1989.
In addition, McKay told the council members that the town’s planning and zoning commission voted last month to approve the creation of three lots requested for a property along Greenbrier Road, but only one lot can be used for construction.