Bullet News GODERICH – An emergency alert siren to warn Clinton residents of community-wide disasters will send its wail across the town in its first test sometime in the next month.
The siren is part of a pilot project that may see other communities in Huron County join in in the future, said Steve Cooke, fire chief for the Municipality of Central Huron, recently.
“We’re the first system in Ontario that can warn people of tornados. Lots of fire departments have fire sirens, but people don’t recognize those as emergencies,” said Cooke, noting that tornado sirens are prevalent in the U.S.
A beehive-shaped alarm on an antenna behind the town hall in downtown Clinton has emitted a siren with an alternating up and down tone to call fire fighters to the hall and warned residents of local fires for years. In the past, it also emitted a single tone to warn fire fighters that the emergency call was coming from either the Clinton hospital or Huronview Home for the Aged.
However, that single tone will now be an emergency alert siren to warn people to seek safe shelter as quickly as possible because of an impending catastrophic event such as a tornado or a hazardous material spill.
The solid tone was chosen to make it distinct from the siren of a police, fire or ambulance vehicle responding to an incident. It also travels further than other tones, although its pitch may be outside of some people’s hearing range, Cooke said.
When the emergency alert siren is sounded, it will wind up to its peak level and remain there for three minutes. It will then wind down, pause for 30 seconds, and then repeat the process two more times. In total, it will sound for about 10 minutes.
The normal up and down wail of the fire siren will be used to signal all clear when it is safe to come out again. Before the 15 minutes has passed, the siren may go off due to a call out for fire department, but residents are urged to stay indoors for at least 15 minutes.
A test of the system is planned and will occur over two consecutive days. The first will be on a Friday at noon and the second will be the Saturday also at noon. This will be done so both people who only work in town and those who normally work out of town will have the opportunity to hear what it sounds like. Notification of when the test will be performed will be done through the local media.
Cooke said now is also a good time to pre-plan in the event of an emergency, considering the safest place to go to in your home or place of business should a tornado or other life threatening emergency occur, ensuring a portable radio, water supply, whistle and enough supplies for 72 hours are in this safe location.