Wake County Civil Defense Siren Snapshot – September 1972

Found a neat snapshot of the county Civil Defense siren system, from September 1972. Source is an unidentified newspaper article dated September 9, 1982. Likely the Fuquay-Varina Independent

The story is about the Fuquay-Varina Rural Fire Department having recently purchased and installed a new ten-horsepower emergency warning siren.

It was purchased with the aid of the Fuquay-Varina Civil Defense Office, and matching funds from the federal government, which paid half of the $3,000 cost. And had three emergency signals:

  • Fire Signal – Series of rapidly alternating high and low-pitch tones.
    Hear example (either exact or similar) found on YouTube. 
    This alerted the volunteer firefighters. 
  • Alert Warning – Steady three to five-minute sustained, double-tone blast.
    Hear example found on YouTube.
    Designed for alerting the public to a “possible threat to the general safety of the community.” This was a signal for residents to tune into local radio or television stations, for information on such situations from a tornado sighting to “strategic warning of an anticipating enemy attack.”
  • Attack Warning – High- and low-note combination, changing from low to high volume, creating an wavering effect, for three to five minutes.
    Hear example found on YouTube.
    Used only for “warning of an actual enemy attack.” 

The article also includes a number of nifty historical points about the county-wide siren system in September 1972:

  • Raleigh has five sirens.
  • Cary has one siren.
  • Garner has one siren.
  • Holly Springs has one siren being installed.
  • Wendell has one siren.
  • Zebulon has one siren.

All have three-signal capabilities, like the new Fuquay-Varina siren. Nearby towns with similar sirens include Angier and other towns in Harnett County. 

All of the county sirens, and all three of their signals, can be activated “by radio beam” from the Raleigh/Wake County Emergency Communications Center (ECC). Following a siren activation, “county fire radio net” announcements are made to the appropriate fire department.

The ECC is in “constant contact” with the National Warning Center “via hotline,” and is monitored on a 24-hour basis. The alert and attack warning signals are tested on the first Wednesday of each month at 11:55 a.m., from the ECC

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  1. I own Apex’s old station 1 siren (Federal 3T22). It was purchased a few years ago from the town. It will be restored once I finish up my workshop and hopefully donated somewhere.

    On another odd note, I noticed WFFD station 5 restored the old Falls VFD siren and remounted it on a tower next to the station. I didn’t think Wake Co. stations used sirens anymore, is it perhaps a tornado siren now?

  2. Some siren memories, from readers on the social media side…

    Fire departments in the 1980s conducted Thursday night siren tests (and all-equipment roll calls) at 7:00 p.m.


    Federal Thunderbolts, two-tone
    Sounded like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYeql9xE19k

    Siren locations included:

    – Wake County courthouse, roof
    – Memorial Auditorium parking lot, near corner of South & Wilmington
    – Cameron Village Post Office, directly behind
    – Five Points Post Office, roof
    – East Raleigh, two sirens


    Two sirens:
    – Old, non-Civil Defense siren was first mounted over Town Hall.
    Later moved to location on E. Williams Street.
    – Behind Fire station 1, Federal 3T22

    Bay Leaf

    – Norwood Road fire station, pole on north side of building.

    Later moved to:

    – Six Forks Road fire station, behind building.


    Locations included:
    – Old Post Office, S. Academy Street. Federal SD-10, two-tone
    – Webster Street, 100 block. Now Zev Summit, three concrete blocks still at site, on the left behind First United Methodist Church garden.

    Durham Highway FD

    – Davis Drive fire station, pole on north side of building. Four sequence siren.


    Three sirens:

    – Rural fire station, behind building. Horizontal siten, probably a Sterling. In 2010, it was behind Fire Station 1.
    – Off North Main Street, on a water tower. Federal 3T22, three-signal.
    – Eastern part of town, 2HP siren.


    – Hudson’s Hardware, at US70 and NC50, Federal SD-10, two-tone.
    – Garner Fire Station 1, pole on south side of station property.
    – Garner Fire Station 2. pole on southeast corner of building. Federal 3T222.

    Fairgrounds FD

    – Fire station, pole on south side of building circa 1960s, later tower behind building.

    Fairview FD

    – Horizontal siren, probably Sterling, pole on east side of building.

    Later changed to:

    – Federal SD-10, two-tone.

    Falls FD

    – Fire station, pole on north side of building.

    Holly Springs

    – Avent Ferry Road fire station, Federal 3T222.


    – Water tower beside Hester Street fire station


    Two sirens:
    – Fire Station 1, Federal #2
    – Fire Station 2 (Carpenter-Fire Station Road), Federal #2

    Raleigh-Durham Airport

    Two sirens:

    – Atop the fire station, circa 1978. Federal #2.
    – Atop the Raleigh-Durham Aviation building, around the same time. Federal #2.


    – TBD

    Six Forks FD

    – Fire station at Six Forks and Lassiter Mill Road.

    Siren moved to:

    – Near intersection of Six Forks and Sandy Forks Road.

    Stony Hill FD

    – Fire station, on pole behind building, Darley 2 HP, which was a repackaged Federal model.

    Swift Creek FD

    – Darley 5 HP (?), which was a repackaged Federal model.

    Wake Forest

    – White Street, maybe water tower behind fire stations?

    Wake New Hope FD

    – Fire station, tower on west side of building, siren plus air horn.

    Three-sequence siren.
    Fire signal was standard rise and fall.
    Alert was a rise and steady
    Attack was a more rapid rise and fall than the fire signal.


    – Federal 3T22

    Yrac FD

    Two sirens on a pole behind the fire station:

    – Sterling Little Giant, 2.5 HP
    – Federal 7HP (large), added about 1985. Four-sequence siren.


    – Water tower, now gone, about a block behind the fire station. Federal 3T22

    Fire signal was high-low, something like this: https://youtu.be/15RqCVUgKNE

    Harris Plant sirens

    – Federal Thunderbolt, single-tone

    Thanks to Alan C., Chris P., Dale J., Michael H., Scott F.

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