East Hawaii News

All Sirens Sounded Today; May Be a First

July 16, 2013, 5:23 PM HST
* Updated July 16, 5:25 PM
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In what may be a first, all of the county’s 71 emergency sirens sounded during today’s special test of the system.

Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said his staff believes it may have been the first time all of the sirens worked during a test.

And according to a message from one longtime staffer at the state civil defense office on Oahu, the testing results were the best here in at least the past 20 years.

The only problems encountered today were relatively minor glitches with two of the sirens – a low volume in Paukaa and too-short duration in Laupahoehoe.

Oliveira said that the police department’s radio shop personnel will be dispatched to fix them.

He said they have been hard at work repairing failed sirens and performing maintenance on others.

More attention was brought to the deficiencies when 10 sirens failed to sound during a tsunami warning in October.

The radio shop’s efforts included a visit earlier this month to a siren repeater station located on Kulani Cone on the slopes of Mauna Loa.

Problems with that station caused 18 sirens to fail during the monthly test conducted on July 1, which prompted today’s special test to see if repairs had been successful.

Oliveira said when it arrived at the station, the repair crew found that its air conditioning unit had broken down, and the temperature inside had risen to an electronics-unfriendly 92 degrees.

The air conditioning is necessary because the station, which also houses equipment for the police department’s radio network, is entirely enclosed to prevent rodents and insects from messing up the works.

File photo.

File photo.

While Oliveira is glad that the siren network is improving, he will be happier when the state completes its renovation of sirens on the Big Island.

That project includes installation of additional sirens as well as a changeover from radio activation to a system using cellular and satellite signals.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” he said.

Oliveira said the first phase will consist of 10 new sirens in areas vulnerable to tsunami. He said that phase and two more phases involving upgrades are expected to be completed by the middle of 2014.

A fourth phase, which is not yet funded, will involve adding more new sirens outside of tsunami inundation areas.

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