Community’s help needed to fine tune Kodiak tsunami sirens

Kodiak’s police chief says it’s back to the drawing board for the new tsunami warning sirens, which got their first real test after Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Sand Point triggered a tsunami warning.

While people in some areas heard the sirens well, in other areas there were complaints that they weren’t loud enough, or that the siren’s voice messages echoed so much they couldn’t be understood.

Chief Tim Putney said there will be two separate tests at two this Wednesday afternoon, the normal time for Kodiak’s weekly tsunami drill. In this week’s drill, each test will generate 60 seconds of tone, followed by a tone that sounded like the Westminster Chimes or a doorbell, to signal the end of the tone tests.

Putney says there will be no audio messages in this Wednesday’s tests.

“We’re looking for any noticeable audible difference in the tones, to see maybe which one is preferred, or which one seems to carry further,” Putney said.

A special email address has been set up for feedback:  Putney says you can also comment on the department’s Facebook page or give them a call at (907) 486-8000.

“I do want people to know that we are trouble shooting two known problems — the Bayside Fire Department siren and the Bayview Drive siren,”  Putney said. “Both have some known issues that we’re working on fixing right now.”

Putney says they traced the problems down to a missing radio component and a power supply issue, which will be resolved soon – but not before this Wednesday’s tests. And for now, it’s back to the basics.

“We want them to work for their intended purpose, first and foremost,” Putney said. “Having all those different languages sounded like a great idea at first, but if that doesn’t work for the community, we’ll pare it back.”

Putney calls the new siren system is a work in progress – and the city will  take the feedback from the community and work with the manufacturer to fine tune the technology.

And while that happens, the police department says the National Weather Service will continue to send alerts over cell phone networks and the city will also continue its practice of sending out police cars to announce potential hazards over loudspeakers.

Chief Putney says you can also tune into KMXT and KVOK for information. The department will also use Nixle and social media.



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