On Monday of last week, I was surprised to wake up to the Corner Brook whistle. It hasn’t happened in years — I have never heard the morning whistle from my parents’ new home in the Sunnyslope Drive area. At first I thought I had slept in, since I usually wake around 7am while on vacation and the whistle doesn’t blow until 8am. But then I realized it was sounding for what seemed like forever. I looked at my watch and discovered it was around 6:45am. I was hearing a fire whistle — a series of long and short blasts that repeats to alert workers to a fire in the mill. Though I strained to recognize the pattern, hoping to look it up in my mill rules book, I was unable to identify it because it took so long for me to realize what was happening. I went upstairs and asked my parents if they had heard it. They had not. It seems that the ambient sound of morning news on TV, the kettle boiling, and the HRV unit cutting in and out had covered the sound of the fire whistle.
I find this incident interesting, since sometimes I have been asked whether the whistle has been “turned down” because it doesn’t appear to be as loud as it once was. When I spoke with an engineer last year, he assured me there was no volume control. I asked if perhaps improved construction techniques and materials (insulation, windows, etc) were the cause. He agreed that these likely contribute to the perception that the whistle is not as loud, but emphasized that the wind direction is the primary factor.
I guess the wind was in my favour last week!