Fire chief explains use of emergency sirens during storm

 

fire logoBy Ron Giofu

 

With many residents wondering about the use of sirens recently during stormy weather, the town’s fire chief and community emergency management co-ordinator (CEMC) appeared before town council to explain the situation.

Chief Randy Sinasac said he has been fielding a lot of questions on the matter and said it is part of a project to increase the town’s awareness level when storms are in the area.

“This is something I started as a pilot project two years ago,” explained Sinasac.

Sinasac said while they are not trying to be weather experts, when there are storms in the area or there is a forecast of storms brewing, they will try and use notification methods such as the sirens to keep residents informed.

“We do have some tools at our disposal,” said Sinasac.

The recent use of the sirens was the first time that has happened this year, he continued.

“It did prompt a lot of response,” added Sinasac.

Councillor Carolyn Davies wondered if there are different “siren codes” for different types of emergencies but also said the use of sirens allowed for “a good opportunity for education.” Sinasac said different types of sirens can be looked into but the fire department also wants to keep things as simple as possible so people know to go inside and check the forecasts if they hear a siren.

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland said he received a lot of calls after the sirens went off and questioned whether the volume level could be increased to ensure more people hear them in cases of emergencies.

Sinasac said boosting the volume level can be looked at, but the sirens are not designed to be heard by people inside.

“It’s made to give notification for people on the outside, not the inside,” he said.

“It was a great way to notify people,” added Councillor Diane Pouget.

Pouget believed the sirens served the public well and that people she spoke with were grateful to be notified. Councillor John Sutton added that “education is key” and thought information provided in the River Town Times could be used to help explain things to the public.

A full-page ad on tornado safety appeared in the May 21 issue of the RTT, one day after the meeting took place.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale asked whether Reverse 911 could be used but Sinasac said that system “is problematic for a number of reasons.” One reason was that weather events would likely be over by the time many Reverse 911 calls could be placed.

Sinasac added that Reverse 911 appears to be “on the way out” with talks to replace the system county-wide.

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