Fire siren issue fixed

 

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

 

In the aftermath of the March 17 fire in Marquette, many local residents were left wondering why the siren did not go off. McGregor Fire Chief Dan Bickel and Clayton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ryan Johnson were on hand at Marquette’s March 18 city council meeting to assure the public that the siren will go off in the future.

 

Bickel said the county currently operates on a newer narrow bandwidth system which sets off the pagers, while all the sirens use wider bands on an old channel, so the fire alert cannot be transmitted to both. That can be switched, but dispatch was not aware of it that night. In the future, said Johnson, the county will switch to a frequency that allows the emergency siren to be heard.

 

With pagers and cell phones, Bickel said the siren is not as critical to alerting volunteer firefighters and rescue workers as it used to be, but that it does make a difference.

 

Marquette Mayor Norma Mason said its importance also lies in alerting the public.

 

“It helps let so many people know,” she said.

 

Councilman Jason Winter also took time to address the crowd, which filled nearly every available seat in city hall, thanking everyone for their support.

 

“On behalf of the council and the city, I want to thank the local law enforcement, fire departments and communities,” he said. “You saved our downtown. You did an outstanding job and we appreciate it. It’s something that’s sometimes taken for granted.”

 

The room erupted in applause. When it died down, Marquette Hardware Store owner Mary Jo Pirc also spoke.

 

“There wouldn’t be a downtown without the boys,” she said. “We would have had a major incident with dead people. I’m thankful for Prairie du Chien’s aerial truck. It was worth every cent and they should be proud. All the towns should be proud.”

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