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Ludington fire siren to go silent at night as lawsuit ends

A veteran with PTSD filed a lawsuit after the Ludington fire siren was relocated to his neighborhood. The city is settling the case.
A veteran with PTSD filed a lawsuit after the Ludington fire siren was relocated to his neighborhood. The city is settling the case.

Traditionally, the fire siren in Ludington rang twice a day– once at noon and again at 10:00p.m.

Ludington Mayor Steve Miller gave some history during a February city council meeting.

“The siren was erected on its old downtown location on the corner of Robert and Loomis Street before 1970” said Miller, “and was disconnected April 30, 2019”.

The siren was disconnected after the city sold the land where the old fire station was originally located. Knowing the city couldn’t force a private owner to keep the siren, the council agreed to find a new location for the siren. After some public debate, the council agreed to move the siren to Copeyon Park on June 22, 2021.

The siren was installed and reactivated in August, ringing out for the first time in 3 years.

The change was alarming for Nate Rose, a local veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In December, Nate and his wife Jana approached the city council to request the fire siren be turned off at night. They explained that the newly moved fire siren sounds like the air raid sirens that Nate heard during his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he can’t sleep in his home after it goes off.

Jana returned in February to plead her husband's case when no action had been taken by the city council.

“In most parts of the world, an air raid siren means, ‘Take cover– danger is on the way,’” said Jana Rose. “Yet, he comes home and his only ask is to not be reminded of the brutality of war every night.”

During that meeting, other members of the public came forward to speak in favor of the fire siren, including George Peterson. He is also a veteran.

“I’m not sure where this air siren thing came from,” said Peterson. “It was always a curfew whistle growing up and it was something special to us. It's part of our small town DNA”

The public pushback led Nate Rose to file his lawsuit anonymously.

However, a lot of people have changed their minds on the issue, said attorney James Koning.

“There was an outpouring of support,” said Koning. “People who supported the siren before, basically changed their position and said, ‘If we would have known it would cause this kind of problem, we never would have supported this siren going off’.”

On Monday, the city council voted 4-3 to settle the case with the Roses.

“I'm waiting for the city's attorney to send me the documents that outlines the agreements,” said Koning. “Once that occurs, my expectation is that the siren … at 10:00p.m. [will stop immediately]”

The siren will continue to blow in its new location at Copeyon park on Saturdays at noon.

Kendra Carr joined IPR as the All Things Considered host in 2019. She previously worked at WMOM in Ludington as the News Director. In 2017, WMOM received the Michigan Association of Broadcasters "Station of the Year" award.