State Civil Defense Siren Maintenance on Oahu Tomorrow

State Civil Defense siren maintenance technicians will conduct testing at the following siren locations Monday, November 19, 2012:

• Aiea High School
• Aiea Heights
• Waimalu Elementary School
• Pearl City District Park
• Palisades Elementary School

Residents in these areas may hear the sirens sound for 30-seconds during the identified time periods. The technicians will use data gathered from these tests to verify operational status and maintenance actions.

Oahu residents may call State Civil Defense at 733-4300 if they have any questions or concerns regarding this test of the Statewide Outdoor Siren Warning System.

State Civil Defense encourages the public to make use of redundant methods of warning including, but not limited to, text notification systems and NOAA Weather Radio.

Backwards Was Testing Defense Civil Today’s – Statewide Failed Sirens 40 (Correction More Then That)

Today’s Civil Defense Testing Was Backwards!

Most folks should know by now that the Civil Defense Sirens here on the Big Island get tested on the first day of each month right around 11:45.  Today, those of us that have subscribed to the NIXLE Emergency Alert System got a warning a few minutes ahead of time that WE HAVE NEVER GOTTEN BEFORE:

Thursday November 1st, 2012 :: 05:55 a.m. HST
The Hawaiʻi Police Department reminds the public that the Civil Defense monthly test of the statewide outdoor siren warning system is scheduled for Thursday (November 1) at 11:45 a.m.

Although the siren system is managed by State Civil Defense, the counties provide assistance with maintenance and operation of the warning sirens. On Thursday, Hawaiʻi County police and fire personnel will monitor all 71 sites around the island to provide feedback about whether any sirens need to be repaired or adjusted.

State Civil Defense technicians did conduct maintenance last week on 11 sirens on the Big Island. At that time, all but the one at Laupāhoehoe Point were deemed functional.

During the recent tsunami warning, 40 sirens failed statewide:

Oahu—20
Maui—5
Molokaʻi—1
Kauai—4
Hawaiʻi—10

Where the sirens failed on the Big Island, patrol officers manually warned residents to evacuate by loud speaker.

The siren test, which is coordinated with the test of the live audio broadcast segment of the Emergency Alert System, involves a steady 45-second tone on all sirens. The purpose of the steady tone is to alert the public to any emergency that may pose a threat to life and property. Besides natural and technological hazards, the Emergency Alert System could be used for terrorist incidents or acts of war.

When the siren signal is sounded in your area during an actual emergency, tune to any local radio or television station for emergency information and instructions broadcast by Civil Defense agencies.

During the monthly test, participating stations will carry a detailed explanation of what the sirens mean, as well as other related information.

Tests of State Civil Defense sirens and the Emergency Alert System are conducted simultaneously, typically on the first working day of the month, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi’s broadcasting industry. During the test, State Civil Defense officials remind the public that Civil Defense disaster preparedness information is located in the front section of telephone directories in all counties.

Ok well according to the Nixle web report that was sent out at 5:55 am this morning… Unfortunately if you don’t have a cell phone or don’t do text messages and rely upon E-mail for the notifications… you might not have gotten the warning until much later (See the time I received it via Email)

See the time I got this identical Emergency report circled in red (Click for larger view)

So as you can see the email report that was generated from a Nixle report didn’t get to me until after 4 hours after the initial report.

I also got the following NIXLE report on my phone from the Department of Emergency Management at 8:30 AM however despite having it selected on emails to get an email notice as well… I never got the Email of this notice at all:

This is a reminder that at 11:45 a.m. today the monthly test of the Outdoor Siren Warning System and Live Audio Broadcast in conjunction with Hawaii State Civil Defense will be conducted.

For the purpose of this test you will hear a 45-second steady tone on all sirens. When you hear the steady tone in circumstances other than a test, turn to any radio or television station for essential emergency information and instructions.

During an actual emergency these broadcasts will be heard at frequent intervals and may become continuous if need be.

In addition, residents in areas surrounding Campbell Industrial Park, Honokai Hale, Makakilo, Kapolei Regional Park, Kapolei Golf Course, and the Coast Guard Station at Kalaeloa may also hear a “whooping” tone following the Siren Test. This “whooping” tone is a test of the Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Incident outdoor siren warning group that will be activated in the event of a HAZMAT incident.

NEW! Adopt-A-Siren Smartphone APP: Adopt-A-Siren: http://sirens.honolulu.gov/ Allows users to adopt a tsunami siren in their neighborhood. They will take responsibility for the siren by checking to ensure its functuality and report on the status of the siren to the City. The application also allows users to name their siren and receive an email notification alerting them when the siren will be tested.

Siren Malfunction: If the siren in your community does not sound or does not operate properly please call the Department of Emergency Management at 723-8960 to report it. You can also email the department at dem@honolulu.gov. With more than 170 outdoor warning sirens on Oahu we appreciate the public’s assistance in identifying problem units.

Siren Damage or Vandalism: You can help us to safeguard our Outdoor Siren Warning System. Please report any acts of vandalism, damages, or missing sirens or components to the Department of Emergency Management at 723-8960. You can also email the department at dem@honolulu.gov and include any images you may have of the siren in question. Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the Honolulu Police Department by calling 911.

Residents now have the option of reporting malfunctioning or vandalized sirens on-line. Visit the City’s Siren Trouble Report page at http://www3.honolulu.gov/DEMSiren/ to file your report as well as upload pictures.

Remember, important emergency information including evacuation maps can be found in the Hawaiian Telecom and Paradise Pages telephone directories or on our website at www.oahuDEM.org.

In addition all Oahu residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive emergency email and cell phone text messages from the Board of Water Supply, Department of Emergency Management and the Honolulu Police Department by signing up with NIXLE at www.nixle.com/dem Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your wireless carrier and plan.

Then as I’m driving around doing my job today… all of a sudden I hear a siren around 3:00 or so and I was like… what the heck… I quickly looked to see if I missed any Nixle reports or Emails on my phone and I didn’t see any.

I quit what I was doing for the day and headed home to see if I could figure out why this siren was going off.  Just as I pulled into my driveway… I receive the following Nixle report at 3:20:

The Civil Defense sirens that just sounded were not because of an emergency. The sirens are still being tested.

Now you would think that they would send out a Nixle Report ahead of testing so that folks wouldn’t be so on edge!
Now I just received the following Nixle report and you can count how many failed during the actual 11:45 test today… Unfortunately, as I said before… this test does not account for the Sirens that went off later then other sirens when it was an actual time of emergency.

In response to reports that some Civil Defense emergency sirens failed during the recent tsunami warning, Hawaiʻi County police and fire personnel were tasked with monitoring all 71 sites around the island to provide feedback about which sirens need to be repaired or adjusted.

Although the siren system is managed by State Civil Defense, the counties provide assistance with maintenance and operation of the warning sirens.

The test Thursday determined that 13 sirens are not working properly.

The sirens that did not sound at all or did not sound properly during the 11:45 a.m. monthly test were located at Kawailani Street in Hilo, Pāpaikou, Paauilo, Oʻokala, Hakalau, Laupāhoehoe Point Park, Honokaʻa, Waiaka, Puakō, Kamehameha Park, Kahaluʻu Beach Park, Nāpoʻopoʻo and Makuʻu Avenue in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

A follow-up test was conducted at 3:10 p.m.

Mayor Kenoi authorized immediate repairs in the interest of the public’s safety.

Personnel from State Civil Defense will be on the island of Hawaiʻi on Friday (November 2) to work with personnel from the Police Department’s Radio Shop and begin the repairs.

Councilman Hoffman on Tsunami Sirens and Effective Leadership

Commentary by Councilman Pete Hoffman:

There are times when one wonders whether anyone listens.  Part of the problem may be a lack of communication, or perhaps a lack of understanding of perhaps a lack of leadership.  You decide which of these applies in the recent tsunami siren debacle.

In December 2009, my office initiated discussions with County Civil Defense to address obvious shortfalls in tsunami siren coverage in our resort areas in West Hawaii, brought to my attention by a Puna resident.  A little research also noted that our County code had no requirements for such an early warning system.  The first “tsunami drill” of 26 Feb 2010 highlighted these deficiencies in an actual evacuation, and shortly thereafter, my office prepared a draft amendment to our code to address this issue.

The proposed legislation was referred to both the Planning Commissions, where last November and December, it was met with less than an enthusiastic reception.  The Planning Director criticized the draft proposal on several counts:  this effort shouldn’t be part of the plan approval process, State and County Civil Defense should administer the program, and maybe we shouldn’t inconvenience a developer with the associated costs of installing such a system. Both Planning Commissions gave my proposal a negative recommendation and sent it back to Council for further action.

Now I’ve been a Council member long enough to appreciate that there are many possibilities to address issues of this nature.  I have no difficulty if the Planning Director and the Commissions didn’t agree with my suggestions for resolving the issue, but someone please offer alternatives.  However, none were provided.  When the draft returned to the Council’s Planning Committee in January, I urged the administration to work on some viable options.  Several coastal communities were without an obvious public safety mechanism, our County code included no such requirements, and we already had one tsunami evacuation to prove that my concern was not science fiction.  My pleas fell on deaf ears.  I received ‘thunderous silence’ from the administration.  The only response noted was to suggest that the State should pay for the sirens, and that my proposal did not work with the Planning Department’s plan review process.

Personally, I really didn’t care who pays for the installation of the sirens.  The real questions remained: when will the sirens be installed and when will a requirement be established?  Surely I couldn’t be the only one who saw this issue.  Where was the administration’s initiative?  Where was effective leadership demonstrated?  And please, let’s stop the bureaucratic double-talk and concentrate on the shortfall.

In mid-February, after continuing to plead for the administration’s assistance in crafting a bill that would meet its criticisms, the Council’s Planning Committee, frustrated with the administration’s lack of action, approved my proposal sending it to full Council by a vote of 6-3.   Finally, we heard voices from the administration that the Council’s concerns would now be considered.

On 1 March, State Civil Defense went out on bid to install a number of new civil defense sirens on the Big Island not merely in tsunami evacuation zones.  These would include sirens in areas along the coast where none previously existed: among others, two at Mauna Lani, two in the Waikoloa resort area and one at Kona Village.   On 2 March, we were told that an alternative proposal would be drafted to address the deficiency in our code regarding siren requirements.  This flurry of activity did precede the second ‘tsunami drill’ on March 11, and generated a renewed urgency regarding this topic.  The new administration proposal has already been placed on both Planning Commission agendas in April and May, and it can be anticipated that the long-sought alternative will be brought to Council sometime in early June.

The route taken in the effort has been torturous. Would that all tsunamis react with the same ‘glacial speed’ as this legislative process, but at least it is moving forward.  We pride ourselves, with good reason, on the effectiveness of the County’s response to both of the tsunami evacuations and how all assisted.  However, the fact remains that we had thirteen hours and five and a half hours warning respectively.  Would we have been so fortunate if we only had one or two hours notice??  While this issue is finally being addressed and sirens will eventually be installed, after some 15 months of discussion the situation today is: there are significant shortfalls in siren coverage in our resort areas, and no requirement has yet been established for new developments in our code.  Let’s hope for better leadership and let’s pray we don’t have a “third tsunami drill” in which our reaction time would be dramatically reduced as it was in Japan.