Humboldt City Council hears complaints about fire whistle

Residents and retired firefighters asked the Humboldt City Council to reinstate the fire whistle, after a recent decision to only blow the signal in the event of hazardous storms.

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Local News

July 9, 2024 - 3:06 PM

Humboldt City Administrator Cole Herder, left, and Mayor Nobby Davis listen to a presentation at Monday’s Humboldt City Council meeting. Photo by Richard Loken / Iola Register

HUMBOLDT — A recent decision to do away with Humboldt’s fire whistle isn’t sitting well with some in the community.

Jeff Bowman, a retired volunteer firefighter, asked Humboldt City Council members Monday to reconsider.

“We, as firemen, relied on that whistle,” Bowman said. “There were times where our phones weren’t with us, or our pagers died. There were times I’d be in the garage, if I hear the fire whistle, I know it’s time to go. 

“It’s a resource the city has and has always had for as long as I can remember,” he continued. “The Fire Department needs all of the resources it can get.”

The Council decided to do away with the fire whistle, as well as the all-clear signal in severe weather alerts. The whistle blows now only in case of hazardous storms. It’s tested at noon every Friday.

“I’m speaking not just for myself, a homeowner and retired fireman,” Bowman said. “Most I’ve talked to would like to see the fire whistle reinstated.”

Local resident Gretchen Murrow also asked the city to reconsider, noting the whistle was effective at alerting children on bicycles to clear the streets to allow fire trucks to get to calls.

She and Bowman both suggested the city resume blowing the whistle for fire alerts, and going with a different tone for storms.

City Administrator Cole Herder and City Clerk Staci Johnson rebuffed one of Bowman’s complaints, that the fire whistle decision was made without letting the public know it was a topic for discussion.

Johnson said the topic was listed on the meeting agenda and posted on Humboldt’s city web page. Herder also noted the Humboldt Union posted a brief notice prior to the June 10 meeting.

COUNCIL members approved a motion to install LED lighting at all of the city-owned facilities, including City Hall, the maintenance shop, water and sewer plants, fire station, swimming pool, bulk fill station, and Cannon, River and Camp Hunter parks.

The city is working with ROI Energy, which will provide credits to Humboldt for the installation.

The total cost, pegged at a shade more than $48,000, is pared down to $6,888 through credits, and if the fixtures are installed in-house. Otherwise, the city’s cost would have been about $35,000, Herder said.

The implementation will be expanded to include the Humboldt Public Library, which is its own entity, but is supported from city tax dollars. In fact, roughly half of the installation costs, $24,000 are for the library alone.

Herder said the library’s board of directors have had preliminary discussions about the project, but rather than wait for a decision, he urged the Council to vote promptly.

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