A pair of ospreys has quieted a fire alarm in one New Jersey shore town, and that has ruffled some feathers in the fire department. The raptors built a nest inside the siren used by Spring Lake's fire department and first-aid squad. By law, the nest can't be disturbed, because ospreys are listed as a threatened species in New Jersey during their breeding season. The siren has been turned off for the spring and summer, leaving firefighters and paramedics to rely on pagers and cellphones to alert them of emergencies.
First responders in the resort about 60 miles north of Atlantic City say so far things have been working smoothly. But Fire Chief Tom Mullaney said Spring Lake could have a serious problem if it loses power or has a communications glitch. "We're not trying to hurt the birds," he said. "We just need to keep our communications system working." Borough Administrator Bryan Dempsey said a police officer notified him in March that an osprey appeared to be building a nest on the siren, which is mounted on a pole about 100 feet off the ground behind the police, fire, and first-aid squad headquarters. The nest cannot be disturbed at least until Sept. 1.