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The Sounds of Fire Safety: Fire Truck Style

The theme for Fire Prevention Week in Canada this year is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.” In recognition of this important annual event, our team here at Metalfab has decided to spotlight the new sounds of fire safety fire truck style. In this article, we’re going to explore the various audible warnings to look out for on new fire trucks. If you are approaching the time to upgrade one or more of your fire trucks, we also invite you to take this opportunity to consider the sounds of fire safety your department would like to include on your next unit.

Today, there are a variety of audible warnings associated with fire trucks. The most common audible warnings on current NFPA-compliant units are electronic sirens, mechanical sirens, deep tone sirens, and air horns. The latest standard in audible warning systems is designed to bring you the highest level of safety available to your community with current technology. Each of these options have different features that may or may not be the right fit for your department.

Electronic Sirens

Electronic sirens are available from numerous brands and come in a variety of styles. Most electronic siren options utilize a single tone for the majority of the time in use, but they have several other tones available to enhance attention-capture capabilities. These sirens also have the ability to broadcast voice through the system so your crew can speak to passersby on their way to or on the site of a fire. Speakers for electronic sirens come in varying wattages, so be sure to discuss with your manufacturer how many watts are appropriate for your department.

Mechanical Sirens

Mechanical sirens have a very distinct sound designed to alert motorists and pedestrians in the fire truck’s path. These sirens emit a lower frequency signal, which enables the sound to travel over a longer distance and lets your community hear you coming sooner. The downside to these sirens is that they require a large electrical draw for use, which can be prohibitive for some departments. They are, however, ideal for departments in bustling communities where having that early warning to get out of your fire truck’s way is an asset.

If a mechanical siren is the right fit for your department, consider opting for the Federal Q2B, which is the most popular choice among our customers and produced by one of our very trusted partners, Federal Signal. The Federal Q2B comes with a number of great features, including a lower power draw relative to other mechanical sirens, a removable microphone, and a three-year warranty. Give your Metalfab team a call to learn more.


Deep Tone Sirens

Deep tone sirens, as the name suggests, utilize a deeper tone to penetrate vehicles, which more effectively alerts motorists that you’re on the way to a scene. This enhanced penetration is achieved using high-output subwoofers installed on the fire truck’s exterior. Departments in high-traffic areas, in particular, benefit from the deep tone siren’s ability to capture the attention of motor vehicle drivers on the road.

At Metalfab, we recommend departments opting for a deep tone siren go with either the Federal Rumbler, also from Federal Signal, or the Whelan Howler. The low frequencies emitted by the Federal Rumbler deliver up to 10 decibels more sound pressure inside civilian vehicles near your fire truck. It also comes with a three-year warranty. The Whelan Howler amplifies any 100- or 200-watt siren and uses low frequency tones to synchronize with your fire truck’s primary siren tones. It works with any sweeping, hi/low, electronic, or mechanical tones generated by the primary siren. If your department is looking for a deep tone siren, your Metalfab team can help you determine the best fit.


Air Horns

Some departments opt to use air horns on their fire trucks to alert motorists and pedestrians to clear the way. They are also used on the scene of a fire to gain the attention of civilians in the area and as an evacuation alert for firefighters. Air horns are famous for their loud, goose-like sounds, which reach approximately 150 decibels.

Air horns are traditionally mounted on the chassis hood or in or behind the bumper. Due to noise levels inside the cab, regulations no longer permit these warning devices to be mounted on the roof of the chassis. If your department is opting to use air horns, they can be switched in the cab using a horn button, foot switches, a push button on the dashboard on the passenger side, or a lanyard control. You can also have them switched on the pump panel.


Make Them Yours at Metalfab

All of these sounds of fire safety enhance the safety of the general public and our first responders. At Metalfab, we incorporate these audible warning systems into our custom units in various combinations, depending on the needs of the department and their community. No matter what combination you choose, we guarantee that all of our sirens and air horns are current with the latest industry standards and that we are consistently on the lookout for new and improved technology to offer our customers.

If you are in the process of designing your next custom fire truck and would like more information on your options for audible warnings, we invite you to give us a call at 1-800-561-0012 or to reach out to our Business Development Manager, Ryan Stacey, directly by email at

All the best with your community engagement events this October and have a safe and happy Fire Prevention Week!