What’s that Siren?

Sirens, the Internet, Blogs and Scanners

Living in an urban setting, we’ve become accustomed to the frequent wails of sirens. They blare into our consciousness at all stages of our activities, interrupting conversation, thought, relaxation, exercise, and sleep. Ever wonder where they’re headed?  There are some resources in our weird, wired world here in the Emerald City that might at least give you some information.

Many of the sirens we hear in this part of the city are fire and medical emergency response. The Seattle Fire Department has a real-time 911 system which shows the dispatches of fire equipment throughout the city updated to the minute, so by the time you hear the siren, point your browser here  and click the “Today” button, you’ll be able to see where the sirens are heading.  The active calls are in green, the resolved calls are in blue. The Fire Department also maintains the Seattle Fire Department Fireline which is a blog with information about significant emergency events as well as news items about the department.

The police department does not have an officially sanctioned system where the public can track dispatches in real time.  For those of us with curiosity, but lacking the desire to buy a scanner from Radio Shack, or the technical know-how to set it up,  there are several online scanners for Police and Fire Department radio communications:

Maybe you’re just interested in knowing what happened with all the Police cars on 85th near 3rd last Saturday. There are some resources you can check with more lag:

  • The SPD Blotter. This is the official SPD blog, items may take a few days to show up.
  • Online SPD reports. Registration and sign-in are required to view these “redacted” reports. And not all reports are available. You can expect a three to five day lag between incident and report availability.
  • Online SPD Crime Map. Crimes will be mapped here within 12 hours, and will include links to the reports or General Offense numbers.
  • Local online news websites (seattletimes.com, ballardnewstribune.com, seattlepi.com).
  • Local neighborhood news blogs (phinneywood.com and myballard.com). These blogs make it a point to check out the police scanners, and jump on hot, breaking events.
  • The Seattle 911 blog from seattlepi.com has lots of information in addition to articles about police reports.
  • If the event is really big, you might get KING, KIRO or KOMO coverage as well.
  • Everyblock.com is a site with lots of information about your neighborhood. They also have a unique system which will email you weekly information about your neighborhood they glean from public records and other websites.