When a fire siren sounds, it is the audible reassurance that help is on the way for someone who desperately needs it.
Just ask the Te Puke community. When NZME ran a story earlier this month about the local fire chief defending the brigade's siren against those who complained that it was disturbing their sleep, he was overwhelmed with support.
Many, including a crash survivor, said they felt the siren was a comfort rather than a nuisance. My colleague Zoe Hunter wrote an opinion piece at the time sharing that same view.
The Oxford community in Canterbury would agree. It just won a petition to overturn Fire and Emergency New Zealand plans to silence the local siren overnight.
This week, NZME revealed sirens at volunteer stations at Ngongotaha and Pāpāmoa had already been silenced.
Why? Because people, reportedly new to the area, complain the siren is disturbing their sleep.
My opinion on that? How selfish and ridiculous.
My message to those complainants is to take one for the team - their community. If they don't like it, move.
When a siren sounds in smaller centres throughout New Zealand, volunteer men and women put their work, sleep, dinner and families aside to be there for their community.
Such actions should be celebrated, not reprimanded.
Volunteers don't get paid for their efforts, which can take a very real impact on their sleep, work and personal lives. That's not to mention they are often putting their lives at risk to save others. But still, they charge on ahead to help keep their communities safe or to provide urgent rescue for those desperately needing it.
Where would we be without them?
But now these firefighters are relying on pagers and cellphones for emergency alerts at night. When they don't work, they are to wait three minutes before sounding the siren as a back-up.
Surely this defeats the purpose of an urgent response if the siren is already considered - by every firefighter we've spoken to in these stories - to be 100 per cent failsafe.
Minutes are everything when 111 is called. Just ask anyone who has watched their house burn, suffered a cardiac arrest or been trapped in a crashed car.
My eyes rolled when we were reliably told, by those in the fire industry, complaints came from newly moved-in residents.
It reminded me of the 1879 case of Sturges v Bridgman; a doctor moved next to an existing confectioner and successfully complained about the "nuisance" noise from the sweets factory.
The noise of the confectioner's industrial mortars and pestles seriously inconvenienced the doctor in the use of his consulting room and a legal battle ensued. The confectioner had operated in the same spot for more than 20 years yet it was ruled that such history was no defence. The doctor won.
The landmark case set a precedent that appears to still be in play all these years later. Remember Western Springs?
It appears the squeaky wheel really does get noticed. What sad irony.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand must not bow to what, in my view, is silliness and continue to sound sirens around the Bay, and rest of New Zealand, as the first and best form of alerting volunteers.