Pinoy Driver

Types of Emergency Vehicle Sirens and Who Are Allowed to Use One

Emergency vehicle requires sirens and lights for easy recognition by other vehicles that are hitting the same road. Philippines, just like any other country has designated specific sirens for ambulance cars, police cars and fire trucks. Sirens were basically built to be loud since hearing is considered to be a primary warning sense. A loud auditory signal may exert an immediate arousing effect to the driver’s ears resulting to alertness that there is a nearby emergency vehicle coming. An emergency siren usually have two or three tones, sometime more. It is a must for drivers to give way to emergency vehicles at all times once they hear the siren.


Types of siren pitch

There are three types of sirens being used and all three are alternately used depending on how urgent the emergency is.

  • Wail – prolonged high pitch
  • Yelp – a short but sharp pitch; sped up version of wail
  • Phaser – fastest pitch


Siren tones


For Police car

Since Philippines has been a territory of America for quite some time, it also adopted the Western versions of siren tones. Just like in North America, we use the ‘wail’ setting which gives a long up and down variation, with an unbroken tone. In heavy traffic, it is preferred to use the ‘yelpsetting.


For Ambulance car

Ambulance car also uses long up and down pitch together with a flashing light to indicate that there is an emergency on the way. The siren and light are always turned on during these two situations:

  • Ambulance is empty and going to receive a patient who is in need of emergency.
  • Ambulance is carrying a patient and going to the hospital.


For Fire truck

The honk of a fire truck siren was first produced before using a horn and some countries still use horns up to this day. But since technology is already here, fire truck now uses the same siren equipment of police and ambulance cars. It generally operates in wail and the siren wail tends to be longer, starting from a lower tone.


Are private cars allowed to use siren?

Aside from the three government vehicles mentioned above, no one (even politicians) is allowed to use any kind of siren (or any loud, disturbing horn). Though some people tried to use it to avoid traffic, they got arrested and penalized afterwards. The use of siren for private cars is prohibited because it causes confusion to other drivers and disturbs the flow of traffic.  To avoid this unlawful act, our government has passed Presidential Decree No. 96, s. 1973 which states:

  • “That it shall be unlawful for the owner or possessor of any motor vehicle to use or attach to his vehicle any siren, bell, horn, whistle, or other similar gadgets that produce exceptionally loud or startling sound, including dome lights, blinkers and other similar signaling or flashing devices.
  • The gadgets or devices mentioned above may be attached to and use only on motor vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Commission, Police Departments, Fire Departments, and hospital ambulances.”


The decree also states that anyone who will violate the law is  subject to device or gadget confiscation. If there will be subsequent offenses , the violator shall suffer six months imprisonment and/or pay for a fine. In addition, the official receipt and certificate of registration  (OR and CR) of the vehicle will be canceled or revoked.


Carlos is a digital marketing and lead generation expert who has helped advocate driver education websites since 2012.

Posted in Advice, Car, Truck

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