Te Puke firefighters are experiencing an unprecedented number of callouts so far this year and not everyone is happy about it.
Fire chief Glenn Williams said Te Puke residents had raised concerns with him about the frequency of the fire siren sounding throughout the township at all hours from the Boucher Ave station.
It has prompted the seasoned firefighter to post an explanation on the volunteer brigade's Facebook page.
Williams wrote: "I apologise that some people are not happy that they get woken up with the siren but I respectfully ask that residents spare a thought for the firefighters who are called ... then have to get to their jobs in the morning."
He said the only reliable alert mechanism was the siren. Previous trials of no siren at night, prompted by other complaints, did not work.
"The sounding of the siren is also reassurance for those who have called for the brigade that help will be on the way," he wrote.
Williams told the Bay of Plenty Times there had already been 82 callouts for the brigade this year.
"We don't normally get those kinds of numbers until maybe the end of May," he said.
"It's not as though we've had numerous bush or vegetation fires or major natural weather events."
Williams, who is also a safety and health adviser for Fire and Emergency New Zealand and president of the United Fire Brigade Association, has spoken to other fire chiefs from around the country and none seemed to be experiencing the same pattern, he said.
"If we end up with 90 calls by the end of the month, that's way more than we have ever had but we could end up with a huge prolonged period with no calls later in the year, we just don't know," Williams said.
Pāpāmoa fire chief Allan Bicker said while his crew had not received complaints, new residents - usually from Auckland - had questioned the use of the siren and asked why the brigade didn't use better technology.
"Because technology fails," Bicker said.
"And personally, if my house was on fire I would want to hear a siren because I know help is on the way."
Katikati fire station officer Brendan Gibbs said they received complaints once every four to five years from people saying the siren was a "nuisance".
However, positive feedback outweighed the bad. Katikati residents who recognised firefighters travelling to the station when the siren sounded often pulled over to let them though, Gibbs said.
Both Bicker and Gibbs echoed Williams' message that alternatives to sirens were unreliable.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber lived within 200m to a volunteer fire station and experienced the regular disruption of the siren sounding but said, "I take comfort in knowing there are professionals on their way to help somebody in strife."
"Whilst I might lose a minute of sleep, somebody's life might be saved. To me, we should be applauding those people rather than criticising them."
Sarai Mawkes replied to Williams' message, saying she lived within metres of the siren and once needed it.
"Indeed its the sweetest sound when its meant for u [sic]."