Restored 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren Returns to its Trenton Birthplace

Trenton, Mich., May 23, 2006 – WHAT: Restored 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren Unveiling

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 26, 2006

WHERE: Trenton Fire Station, 1989 King Rd., just west of Fort St., Trenton

WHO: The Honorable Gerald R. Brown, Mayor, City of Trenton
Bruce Vick, Fire Chief, City of Trenton
Brandt Rosenbusch, Manager – Archives and Vehicle Collection, Chrysler Group
Dean Reifsnider, Senior Restoration Technician – Archives and Vehicle Collection, Chrysler Group

WHY: The Chrysler Air Raid Siren served as Trenton’s primary tornado-civil defense device from 1958 until the 1970s when a radio system was introduced. The siren, produced at the Trenton Engine Plant, was removed from its 90-foot tower at the Trenton Fire Station in 2002 for restoration by Archives and Vehicle Collection staff at the Chrysler Group Quality Improvement Center.

The fully-restored Chrysler Air Raid Siren will appear in Trenton’s 2006 Memorial Day Parade (10 a.m. Saturday, May 27) with the Veteran’s Committee of the Trenton Engine Plant.

BACKGROUND: Developed in 1942 by Chrysler’s Industrial Division, in conjunction with Bell Laboratories of New York, the Chrysler Air Raid Siren was originally produced during World War II (with a six-cylinder industrial engine) to deafen, or at least frighten, enemy troops. The siren produced the loudest continuous noise ever created by mechanical means – 170 decibels at the throat, diminishing to 138 decibels 100 feet away – sufficient to cause instant damage to unprotected ears.

Powered by a 180-horsepower Industrial HEMI® V-8 Engine, the 1956 model is 11’ 3” long, 4’ 7” wide and 5’ 2” tall and weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. The completely self-contained, gas-powered unit was designed to operate independently of electric power plants, water systems or other forms of public utility, allowing it to function under any circumstances.

In addition to its use in WWII, the Chrysler Air Raid Siren was installed in communities across the US and Canada as a tornado-civil defense device. The first community siren was installed in New York City in 1942. Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Miami were among the American cities to install multiple sirens.

The restored Chrysler Air Raid Siren will join the Walter P. Chrysler Museum’s permanent collection this fall, alongside the Chrysler tank and jet engines currently on exhibit.

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