Colusans need not look to the clock to know it’s the lunch hour: After nearly six months of near-silence, the Colusa City Fire Department’s horn is once again sounding a three-note, noontime reminder across the city.
Using strike-team funds, the department purchased a new horn, which they installed a couple weeks ago, to replace one that had been in place since the building was first constructed in the 1960s. About a year ago, the department attempted to refurbish the old one, but that proved ineffective. “We rebuilt the old horn about a year ago, but because we couldn’t find parts online, we had to manufacture our own,” Colusa City Fire Chief Logan Conley said. “(Even after it was rebuilt), the old one didn’t have an evaporator line, and a lot of condensation built up and muffled the resonator inside the horn and interrupted its operation.”
The new one does have an evaporator line, and – as firefighters and neighbors have attested to – has no issues with a lack of resonance.
At the time the fire department was first constructed, the horn was used as both an emergency notification system and as a method for summoning volunteers to the department for a fire call. With the advent of pagers and mobile phones, the latter became unnecessary, but the horn still serves a purpose for the city.
“The horn is actually a part of the City of Colusa’s emergency plan. It’s a method of notifying city residents if there is a large natural or man-made disaster,” Conley said. “When the horn is sounded, it would be because of mandatory evacuations for city, most likely in the case of a natural disaster. With all of the rain this year, the county-wide pre-flood planning is what got us moving on replacing the horn. Because of the area we are in, we thought it was of utmost importance to get it working… It is reassuring to have an alert system that is working and up to date.”
In the case of a levee break, Conley said that the horn would sound non-stop until the city was evacuated. The horn could also occasionally be used to notify the city of the department’s response to a structure fire or other large event, or to get volunteers to the department in the event that they don’t hear their pagers. In either case, the horn will sound for about a minute, Conley said.
The three short notes at the lunch hour are just a test. Conley said that the department was still working to dial in the volume of the horn and the actual physical height of the equipment, but that it would sound every day at noontime, Monday through Saturday.
Area residents, even those closest to the louder horn, have largely been happy to hear it again.
“I love that it’s back, and so far no patrons have complained. We weren’t expecting it, so everybody got a bit of a jump the first time, maybe even that first week, but now you hear a universal laugh when it goes off: It’s lunch time,” Colusa County Librarian Stacey Costello said. “I’m happy it’s back. It reminds me of my childhood.”
Messick-Ace Hardware Vice President Daniel Reische said that he was happy that the horn was working from a safety standpoint.
“It scares me every time it goes off, but I would rather it work like it does now, than have it work – or not work – like it did before. If there is an emergency, at least we know that something is going on. I think it’s really about time that they got it fixed,” Reische said.