Ask Trooper Steve: Here’s how police sirens wail, yelp and pierce

News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers your questions

ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions about the rules of the road every week, helping Central Florida residents become better drivers by being better educated.

Trooper Steve was asked on Thursday, “What is up with the differences in police sirens? Do they change on their own?”

“A unique question and a topic I enjoy speaking about,” said Montiero. “Police equipment and emergency response is something most people know nothing about so when the question is presented, the answers are always fairly unique.”

When it comes to emergency vehicles’ audible warning devices, there are three main styles of siren types: the wail, yelp, and the piercer or phaser.

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  • Wail: WwweeeeeeeeeWwwoooooo
  • Yelp: WeewooWeeWoo
  • Piercer/phaser: Rapid high tone

“The wail siren is the most common siren that people hear,” Montiero said. “This is a high-low, elongated frequency that is used for your generic vehicle response. The yelp is very similar, but not as elongated in sound, and designed to get a drivers attention quickly. The phaser or the piercer siren is what we referred to as our top priority or intersection clearer. This is an extremely fast-paced siren and completely different than the previous two. This is to gain immediate attention for an area that could be highly congested.”

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About the Author:

Steven Montiero, better known as “Trooper Steve," joined the News 6 morning team as its Traffic Safety Expert in October 2017. A Central Florida native and decorated combat veteran, Montiero comes to the station following an eight-year assignment with the Florida Highway Patrol.