Squad 51 Siren?

Tristar

Senior Member
After years of not seeing it, I'm watching Emergency, and I noticed something that I never noticed (or thought about) before. As Squad 51 was on the way to a call, I heard a motor driven siren. I don't think it was a Q, but not sure (maybe a 28?), but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a B&M.


What siren did they have under the hood? Did they not have/use electronic sirens in the squads on the show? What about in real life?


One other thing - I noticed that the Twinsonic is mounted so that it's angled down towards the front of the squad. The bar should have a wide enough angle of coverage without the need to angle it down...why is it mounted that way?
 

crescentstar69

Veteran Member
This has been discussed before, but the siren sounds were all dubbed in by sound technicians. The lights in many TV shows are dimmed so they film better. Remember, it is just a TV show, and sound techs aren't as uptight about this stuff as we geeks are!
 
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Tristar

Senior Member
Sorry, I didn't realize this had been discussed before. Thanks for the info. Do you know if the squads (real life, that era) had electronic or motor driven sirens?
 
Tristar said:
Sorry, I didn't realize this had been discussed before. Thanks for the info. Do you know if the squads (real life, that era) had electronic or motor driven sirens?
I'm not from LA County, but I did see a documentary on Saturday morning TV back when Emergency was on the air. It was hosted by Kevin Tighe and Randy Mantooth. It showed ACTUAL LA County rescue squads in action. Several had Federal Twinsonic CTS lightbars like squad 51 and ran Federal Electronics with Martin Horns. Several units were shown using the famous LA County "platter" lights with a Federal 66 mechanical siren and I think one had a Model 28, but not sure.


To be honest, I kinda liked the platter lights...I don't think they would go over anywhere but California, though.
 

crescentstar69

Veteran Member
Tristar said:
Sorry, I didn't realize this had been discussed before. Thanks for the info. Do you know if the squads (real life, that era) had electronic or motor driven sirens?
Didn't mean to come off snippy!
 

billforbush

Member
crescentstar69 said:
Didn't mean to come off snippy!
I was in LA for a conference a few years back and was fortunate enough to get a tour from the LA Co Fire Museum where the original Squad 51 and Engine 51(s) reside. For the filming of the pilot episode, they used an actual squad. The studio then built a replica that was used throughout the rest of the series. I got a close up look at the replica, and it used a GE radio and PA20. The CTS Twinsonic was mounted straight when I saw it, but I can imagine they may have tilted it to minimize the flash for filming. In some episodes you can see black gaffers tape over the lenses in some shots. In any case, it's a beautiful truck and didn't appear to be equipped with a mechanical siren. I was told that the extra light on top of the lightbar was actually a truck turn signal type light mounted to shine upward for vehicle identification for air units, however the additional lights were not found to be helpful and the practice was later abandoned. Even close up I had never seen one like it.


At that time, the museum was housed in a warehouse and they were fundraising to get a suitable display location. Even so, it was awesome walking among a whole warehouse of classic LACFD apparatus ranging from horse drawn to fairly modern. Squad 51 was even autographed on the inside of each cab door by the actors in Sharpee.


Bill
 

RyanZ71

Senior Member
Who's tougher then LA County, eh? They knew how to do it back then, and they know how to do it today.

 

CHIEFOPS

Senior Member
1. As noted the actual siren mounted in the Squads back then were the Federal Interceptor 20


2. The siren heard in the show is the same siren heard on Adam-12: a sound effects concoction of an electronic siren run manually, if you listen closely it's either a ramp up and short coast down followed by a ramp up and long coast down cycle or vice versa looped continuously


3. In any given episode the sound editor would mistakenly dub-in the Engine's mechanical siren for the Squad and/or vice versa


4. IIRC the "Platter" set-up featured a B&M siren, not a Federal


5. The Engine had a Federal Q but I'm 100% sure they dubbed-in a completely different siren or altered it's pitch to a lower growl


6. The little white light on the lightbar speaker housing was intended for LACOFD helicopters to discern a Paramedic Rescue Squad from a non-Paramedic Rescue Squad, Patrol Unit or a vehicle mechanic repair truck
 

Wailer

Veteran Member
The sound technicians dubbed in three different siren sounds for the TV show:


Mechanical siren 1: a recording of a B&M siren (either an S-8 or a Super Chief). This was the siren sound that was dubbed in for the 1965 Crown Firecoach (the first Engine 51) and the ambulances in the earlier episodes.


Mechanical siren 2: a recording of a Federal Q or 66G. This was the siren sound that was dubbed in for the Ward LaFrance pumper (the second Engine 51). It was also mistakenly dubbed in for Squad 51 in one or two episodes (from what I can remember).


Electronic siren: a Federal PA20. The PA20 has wail, yelp, and alert tones and was manufactured in the early to mid 1960s. I have one, and it is a very old siren. The Squad 51 siren sound is a PA20 running in 'manual' mode. The PA20 manual, wail, and yelp tones are heard in movies and TV shows that were made in the latter half of the 1960s and all the way through the 1970s.


Squad 51 was actually equipped with a PA20A. The PA20A doesn't sound anything like the PA20.
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
Another thing I heard is that due to the brightness of the 60 watt 4464 bulbs used in the TwinSonic, many had their bulbs replaced with 35 watt 4416's to reduce the blinding flash effect when filmed.
 

emtanderson51

Forum Guru
Tristar said:
After years of not seeing it, I'm watching Emergency, and I noticed something that I never noticed (or thought about) before. As Squad 51 was on the way to a call, I heard a motor driven siren. I don't think it was a Q, but not sure (maybe a 28?), but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a B&M.

What siren did they have under the hood? Did they not have/use electronic sirens in the squads on the show? What about in real life?


One other thing - I noticed that the Twinsonic is mounted so that it's angled down towards the front of the squad. The bar should have a wide enough angle of coverage without the need to angle it down...why is it mounted that way?
The lightbar was angled down at the beginning of season 6.....Most likely an attempt to "kill" the dead on flashes at the camera. I noticed they went to gaffers tape through the center of the rear domes and the back of the speaker housing in some scenes about halfway through that season and straightened the bar...It also could have been an accident...Emergency! folklore....only here lol
 

RyanZ71

Senior Member
For those of you who REALLY watched Emergency you will recall around season 4 or 5 they would use an "intersection" alert which was a two-tone horn similar to how the UK does it. As the Squad would approach the intersection you would here it and then it would go off after the intersection. Not sure if that was an actual part of the Squad or dubbed in like I think it was.
 
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Tristar

Senior Member
Wailer said:
The sound technicians dubbed in three different siren sounds for the TV show:

Mechanical siren 1: a recording of a B&M siren (either an S-8 or a Super Chief). This was the siren sound that was dubbed in for the 1965 Crown Firecoach (the first Engine 51) and the ambulances in the earlier episodes.


Mechanical siren 2: a recording of a Federal Q or 66G. This was the siren sound that was dubbed in for the Ward LaFrance pumper (the second Engine 51). It was also mistakenly dubbed in for Squad 51 in one or two episodes (from what I can remember).


Electronic siren: a Federal PA20. The PA20 has wail, yelp, and alert tones and was manufactured in the early to mid 1960s. I have one, and it is a very old siren. The Squad 51 siren sound is a PA20 running in 'manual' mode. The PA20 manual, wail, and yelp tones are heard in movies and TV shows that were made in the latter half of the 1960s and all the way through the 1970s.


Squad 51 was actually equipped with a PA20A. The PA20A doesn't sound anything like the PA20.
Interesting...I don't recall the first Engine 51 having a B&M sounding siren...I'm going to have to listen more carefully! For what it's worth, I do recall hearing the B&M on the Caddy and (I think) Suburban ambulances. I also recall hearing it on the ambulances in the older episodes of Adam-12. Regarding mechanical siren 2 being dubbed in for Squad 51 by accident - that was what I heard the other day. I'm glad to know that it only happened on a couple of episodes; I thought that I had missed something in the past.


I also have an old PA20, with the Alert tone. I haven't used it in some time, and I burned it out a long time ago by using the "in between" wail & yelp position. My friend tried to replace whatever component fried, but from what I remember, it didn't sound right after that.
 
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Tristar

Senior Member
RyanZ71 said:
For those of you who REALLY watched Emergency you will recall around season 4 or 5 they would use an "intersection" alert which was a two-tone horn similar to how the UK does it. As the Squad would approach the intersection you would here it and then it would go off after the intersection. Not sure if that was an actual part of the Squad or dubbed in like I think it was.
I remember the Hi-Lo tones...yes, it did sound dubbed in (and not very well).
 

Wailer

Veteran Member
Tristar said:
Interesting...I don't recall the first Engine 51 having a B&M sounding siren...I'm going to have to listen more carefully!
If you look carefully at the first Engine 51 (the 1965 Crown Firecoach) it is actually equipped with an electronic siren. It has a Federal CP25 speaker below the windshield and a Federal PA20 siren on the dashboard. The PA20 sound should have been dubbed in for that truck instead of the B&M mechanical sound. However, various Crowns with B&Ms did appear at fire scenes throughout the series.

Tristar said:
I also have an old PA20, with the Alert tone. I haven't used it in some time, and I burned it out a long time ago by using the "in between" wail & yelp position. My friend tried to replace whatever component fried, but from what I remember, it didn't sound right after that.
Using the 'in between' tones will ruin the diodes in the siren oscillator circuit. The PA20 was also not a reliable siren. It went through nine minor revisions to the circuitry before it was abandoned in favour of the PA20A in 1967. But even though your PA20 is broken, hang onto it. I'm keeping mine because I consider it a classic piece of Emergency/Adam-12 memorabilia.
 

Skip Goulet

Passed Away
Wailer is right: the mechanical sounds on Emergency! were B&M S8Bs and Q sounds for the second Engine 51. On a couple of episodes one of Snyder's Cadilac ambulances was used, and in a couple of scenes the actual Super Chief siren was used. Another neat siren sound on the show was heard when "Johnny and Roy" went to San Francisco. One of the staple sirens for many, many years for SFFD was the Federal Doubletone siren. During one segment Johnny and Roy ride with one of the battalion chiefs. Talk about a plain-jane unit, the only light was a red spotlight and the siren was an "underhood" doubletone siren. The doubletone has long been one of my favorite siren sounds, second only the Super Chief.


The dubbed in hi-lo horn sounds which seem to come from Squad 51 were not proper, as CA law did not allow any electronic sounds other than wail or yelp in those days. It did make for an interesting sound, but the sound technicians did a lousy job trying to superimpose the hi-lo sound over the wail of the Squad's electronic. To me, the most irritating thing was when they would get the siren sounds switched around, like hearing a Q sound coming from the Squad or the electronic siren sound from the second Engine 51 which had a Q. The other irritation was watching Squad 51 running down the street with the siren going, but when the camera would pan inside the cab the selector on the Interceptor would be in the radio position. That's almost as bad as some of the old police shows: Kojak for instance, that would show an old Bearcat scanner under the dash with the lights moving back and forth with a telephone handset attached,and you would actually see Kojak "talking" on the thing! Argggh! :mad:


Now all that having been said, no one, absolutely no one has ever topped that show. NBC's short-lived "Trauma" came awful close, but that's because it was a modernized version of Emergency! But "Chicago Fire" is no slouch. It would rival Emergency! if it had more rescue scenes and less "soap opera" about it!
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
Skip Goulet said:
Wailer is right: the mechanical sounds on Emergency! were B&M S8Bs and Q sounds for the second Engine 51. On a couple of episodes one of Snyder's Cadilac ambulances was used, and in a couple of scenes the actual Super Chief siren was used. Another neat siren sound on the show was heard when "Johnny and Roy" went to San Francisco. One of the staple sirens for many, many years for SFFD was the Federal Doubletone siren. During one segment Johnny and Roy ride with one of the battalion chiefs. Talk about a plain-jane unit, the only light was a red spotlight and the siren was an "underhood" doubletone siren. The doubletone has long been one of my favorite siren sounds, second only the Super Chief.

The dubbed in hi-lo horn sounds which seem to come from Squad 51 were not proper, as CA law did not allow any electronic sounds other than wail or yelp in those days. It did make for an interesting sound, but the sound technicians did a lousy job trying to superimpose the hi-lo sound over the wail of the Squad's electronic. To me, the most irritating thing was when they would get the siren sounds switched around, like hearing a Q sound coming from the Squad or the electronic siren sound from the second Engine 51 which had a Q. The other irritation was watching Squad 51 running down the street with the siren going, but when the camera would pan inside the cab the selector on the Interceptor would be in the radio position. That's almost as bad as some of the old police shows: Kojak for instance, that would show an old Bearcat scanner under the dash with the lights moving back and forth with a telephone handset attached,and you would actually see Kojak "talking" on the thing! Argggh! :mad:


Now all that having been said, no one, absolutely no one has ever topped that show. NBC's short-lived "Trauma" came awful close, but that's because it was a modernized version of Emergency! But "Chicago Fire" is no slouch. It would rival Emergency! if it had more rescue scenes and less "soap opera" about it!
Hollywood does not have to get the details correct as the vast majority of viewers don't know anything about the equipment used in law enforcement, fire or ems.
 

Henry455

Member
Speaking of old TV shows, anybody old enough to remember "Rescue 8" that ran from 1958-1960? I remember it very well.

 

DalmatProd

Premium Member
Henry455 said:
Speaking of old TV shows, anybody old enough to remember "Rescue 8" that ran from 1958-1960? I remember it very well.


I remember "Rescue 8" very well and fondly. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. And, it had a least one crossover with my other favorite show of the day, "Whirlybirds," where the 'copter pilots flew all sorts of search and rescue missions, using a Bell 46G and 46H for most of their scenes. It was very popular in the mid-to-late 1950's, as these Bell copters were instrumental in developing the military air-rescue during the Korean War.


Without a doubt, "Rescue 8" and "EMERGENCY" were instrumental in my eventually volunteering in fire/rescue for a number of years!


Thanks for the memories!
 

Skip Goulet

Passed Away
RyanZ71 said:
California's equipment laws can really be flat out stupid sometimes... That being said I too am a fan of the doubletone Q.

http://elightbars.org/forums/f18/identify-old-siren-37897/
Wow! I'd forgotten about that thread, Ryan. I've tried to watch that video clip...even though I've seen that episode several time, but it wouldn't allow me access.


BTW, the doubletone sirens aren't doubletone Qs, just the 70-series doubletones, like the pictures Tim (Henry455) posted in that thread.
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
Captain4164 said:
Whats on the chiefs car??? Split Twin Sonic??


It was a Federal Signal CTS with a metal plate placed in the speaker section instead of the normal speaker cover. Seems to me someone on this board has this CTS, perhaps it is Ryan or Eric?
 

flahotrod

Member
Available from the factory as an option. I think this was for oversized siren speakers. The domes are factory. Domes for all TwinSonics were fully enclosed, otherwise white light would show through the speaker openings and all kinds of debris would work its way into the gears and chains.


Regarding "Squad 8", I never knew about this show. It looks great. Too bad it wasn't filmed in color. It would be nice to see some of the old cars and trucks in color. It looks like the Rescue 8 squad did not have steady burn lights on the front, but one of the cars at the scene has a platter on the roof with a front-facing steady-burn. Does anyone know when California Title 13 that set the requirements for emergency lighting went into effect?


Also notice that there are two different front ends (grilles) on squad 51. The one shown in the first seasons has no black around the headlights nor elsewhere on the grille. The squad in later seasons has the black paint. Also, the "first" squad has the letters D-O-D-G-E on the hood painted over while there are no letters on the "second" squad. Did they update the squad with a newer year Dodge that was virtually identical to the first one, or were these changes made to the original squad? Some of this is noticeable in the video links provided above. Others are seen in the episodes.
 
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RyanZ71

Senior Member
As far as I know, the Dodge D300 was the same one used throughout the series. Universal Studios leased the Crown Firecoach from LA County for the firest 3 seasons until the Ward LaFrance company donated that P80 Ambassador Engine to the show.
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
The change in the hood and grille on Squad 51 could have been the result of damage during filming.
 

flahotrod

Member
Good points. Perhaps it was an effort to make the squad look like a newer model by simply swapping out the grille for a newer one and getting rid of the hood letters. I'm sure the TV squad had very few miles on it and would not have needed replacement for the run of the series.
 

stansdds

Veteran Member
The tv squad did not have many miles on it considering the number of years it was used. The main problem it had was being repeatedly started and shut off for various scenes and driven only short distances. This type of driving does not allow the engine and transmission to come up to full operating temperatures and accelerates wear.
 

Skip Goulet

Passed Away
Captain4164 said:
Hey Skip,
is that what my 77GB dual tone is gonna sound like? I just got the stator and grill back from the chrome shop, gotta get the body cover done and then find a stand to mount it. Dont think its gonna fit where i wanna put it
Exactly, Nick! You're gonna love the sound!
 

Skip Goulet

Passed Away
DalmatProd said:
I remember "Rescue 8" very well and fondly. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. And, it had a least one crossover with my other favorite show of the day, "Whirlybirds," where the 'copter pilots flew all sorts of search and rescue missions, using a Bell 46G and 46H for most of their scenes. It was very popular in the mid-to-late 1950's, as these Bell copters were instrumental in developing the military air-rescue during the Korean War.

Without a doubt, "Rescue 8" and "EMERGENCY" were instrumental in my eventually volunteering in fire/rescue for a number of years!


Thanks for the memories!
I was a whopping 13 yrs old when Rescue 8 came out; and to me that was the ultimate TV show of all time.....back then. We got it at about 8:00 on Sunday evenings, and I always looked forward to seeing it. Y'all remember what else Jim Davis starred in?


In 2002 I went to the Summer Meet of the then-SoCal chapter of the Professional Car Society. The SoCal chapter has since become Professional Cars International. Part of the meet is their classic, traditional Code 3 Run, which started at the compound of retired LA Batt. Chief Joe Ortiz. Ortiz now leases classic police, fire and EMS vehicles to the movie studios. While at Joe's place I got to see not only his restored '47 Chevy Panel Rescue truck, but the orignalRescue 8 panel truck which is in Joe's arsenal.


This summer meet is combined with participants from PCI, the Crown Firecoach Enthusiasts and all of L.A County's emergency services.


What I loved about the Code 3 Run was in getting to drive the 1969 hightop Stoner/Suburban Ambulance that belongs to PCI founder Lou Farah in the Code 3 Run. Lou also has a nice Crown Firecoach pumper which was also in the run which was escorted to the meet sit by LAPD. To participate in the Code 3 Run, all vehicles had to have working warning lights and sirens. This included a number of classic rescues, firetrucks and ambulances, including a number from Joe Ortiz' arsenal. Their summer meet for this summer comes up toward the end of June. Wish I could be there!
 
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Tristar

Senior Member
RyanZ71 said:
As far as I know, the Dodge D300 was the same one used throughout the series. Universal Studios leased the Crown Firecoach from LA County for the firest 3 seasons until the Ward LaFrance company donated that P80 Ambassador Engine to the show.
Three different squads were used to film the show. The first was a ’69 or ’70 Dodge loaned to the studio for the pilot show and the first few episodes. The other two squads were built by the studio. The 2nd Squad 51 was a ’72 Dodge D300. The 3rd was a ’74 Dodge D300. I guess this confirms it...I'm a geek.
 
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Tristar

Senior Member
stansdds said:
It was a Federal Signal CTS with a metal plate placed in the speaker section instead of the normal speaker cover. Seems to me someone on this board has this CTS, perhaps it is Ryan or Eric?
From what I remember, there was a law enforcement agency (I think in AZ?) that had split Twinsonics on them.
 

Wailer

Veteran Member
Henry455 said:
Speaking of old TV shows, anybody old enough to remember "Rescue 8" that ran from 1958-1960? I remember it very well.
I looked at a couple of the YouTube video clips, and it looks like Rescue 8 has a B&M siren mounted underneath the front bumper. The sound technicians goofed on the siren sounds for that show too. In some scenes the siren sounds like a B&M, in others it sounds more like a Federal or a Sterling.

Tristar said:
Three different squads were used to film the show. The first was a ’69 or ’70 Dodge loaned to the studio for the pilot show
The squad in the pilot episode was Squad 10, I believe. It was a 1960s Dodge with a Federal C5G siren mounted on a 'platter' on the roof.
 
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stansdds

Veteran Member
Tristar said:
Three different squads were used to film the show. The first was a ’69 or ’70 Dodge loaned to the studio for the pilot show and the first few episodes. The other two squads were built by the studio. The 2nd Squad 51 was a ’72 Dodge D300. The 3rd was a ’74 Dodge D300. I guess this confirms it...I'm a geek.
I knew that an older Dodge squad from LAFD was used in the pilot and the first few episodes. I knew the studio built a squad as the show continued, but I did not know they built two squads. Now I know and yes, I think this confirms your emergency equipment and tv show geekiness. :thumbsup:
 

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