How does a siren work? — MM, Waterloo, Iowa
A siren uses a perforated disk or drum to alternately block and unblock a stream of air. The classic siren has a spinning disk with a pattern of holes around its periphery. This disk is spun in front of a jet of air, producing pressure pulses that we hear as sound. A more modern siren has a spinning centrifugal fan that propels air radially outward through a pattern of holes in a drum around the fan. This centrifugal siren is much louder than the disc siren because the centrifugal system pushes large pulses of air through many openings at once, whereas the disc siren only has one pulsed source of air.