Whitefish Siren Falls Silent During City Hall Construction

Dating back to 1919, the Whitefish curfew siren will be reinstalled on new City Hall

By Tristan Scott
The siren in Whitefish is seen from the roof of the Whitefish Fire Hall. Beacon File Photo

For the next two years, a peculiar hush will fall over Whitefish at precisely 10 p.m.

The silence is relative, of course, but it will at least be peculiar to residents accustomed to the familiar dissonance of the Whitefish curfew siren, notable as much for its blaring tradition as its utility in alerting tardy children that it’s time to head home.

But with the demolition and subsequent construction underway on the new Whitefish City Hall, the traditional 10 p.m. curfew siren, which is perched atop the fire bay at the old fire hall, has gone quiet.

Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns said the high-decibel siren would be mothballed until the tower on the new City Hall is built and operational. Construction is expected to take up to two years.

The siren began blowing its horns to signal curfew in 1919. It was called the “Ding-dong ordinance,” and it originally went off at 9 p.m., according to Whitefish historians.

A few years later, the city changed the alarm to 8 p.m., and in 1944, they bumped it up to its most recent spot at 10 p.m. Before the days of radio pages, the siren went off on fire and ambulance calls.

Today, with a mostly paid staff of emergency services personnel, the siren is largely the product of a bygone era, though it’s silence will surely be noted.

Stearns said an interim location for the siren was considered, but it didn’t make sense to erect it somewhere else given the costs.

“For an 18-month period we couldn’t justify spending $10,000 to put it up somewhere temporary,” Stearns said. “Eventually it will have a new home at the new City Hall.”

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