Upgrade of Emergency Sirens Underway

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Published: 12 Apr 2019

Timaru District Council has launched a project to increase the coverage of its Public Alert Siren System (PASS) to increase resilience for communities not previously covered.

The PASS system is a network of sirens designed to offer a general alert to people in the event of a civil defence emergency. Most are the electro-mechanical air raid siren type alarm, while all new sirens are electronic.  All of them are remotely activated using our Civil Defence VHF radio network.

Two new sirens will be installed, one covering the coastal communities of Waipopo Huts, Opihi Huts and Petersen Park as well as one in the Washdyke Industrial area. There will also be an upgrade for the existing siren array in Rangitata Huts, with the addition of a second array.

This will take the total siren array numbers for our (mainly) coastal communities to 28.  The design of the new sirens will also provide an opportunity to integrate any future upgraded sirens into a fully electronic system.

The sirens are particularly important to improve the resilience of geographically isolated and vulnerable communities who are most at risk from natural hazards.

Timaru District Council emergency management officer, Lamorna Cooper, says that with the installation of further sirens at the additional sites, our Public Alert Siren System can function better by increasing the coverage, raising awareness of local hazards and shortening the response time.

“The installation will be completed by the end of July and commissioned by 4 September. All will then be included in the regular monthly testing at 10:45am on the first Wednesday of every month”, Lamorna said.

“The sirens are only one part of the alerting system and having good public education and awareness to know what to do when you hear one is critical. For example, if you are in low coastal ground such as Caroline Bay and you hear the siren you should head for higher ground, while those in coastal communities that have a Response or Evacuation Plan should follow the instructions in that.

“If you are home it can be as simple as turning on the local radio stations to hear what is happening, or checking the council Facebook and website.

“One of the real benefits for our remote coastal communities is having a local emergency plan in place so that people can spring to action and know exactly what to do for themselves and their neighbours when they hear a siren.”

What to do when you hear warning sirens?

  • Don’t panic.
  • Evacuate all beaches and coastlines immediately on hearing an alert.
  • Check the Timaru District Council website or facebook for updates.
  • Listen to the local radio stations (More FM on 97.9 FM, 93.1 FM and The Breeze on 89.9 FM) for further updates
  • Know where your essential documents and medicines are to take with you
  • If you have to evacuate, take out your getaway kit, turn off electricity and water and take your pets with you.
  • Long or strong, get gone!

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021