False Alarm: Contractor triggers Oahu sirens - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

False Alarm: Contractor triggers Oahu sirens

Civil Defense system engineer Tom Simon Civil Defense system engineer Tom Simon
State Civil Defense Vice Director Doug Mayne State Civil Defense Vice Director Doug Mayne

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You expect to hear them around noon on the first working day of the month. But early Thursday morning emergency sirens sounded.

"It was almost painfully loud," Waikiki resident Eric Baese said.

The rude awakening at 5:25 a.m. was a false alarm.

"I think the whole neighborhood was jolted," Kaimuki resident Nita Prigian said.

State Civil Defense said eight outdoor sirens were triggered by mistake.

"Two of them were in Waimanalo," Civil Defense system engineer Tom Simon said.

The others are in Diamond Head, Kamiloiki, Makiki, McCully and Moanalua Valley. The source of the wayward wail was 3,800 miles away at the Nebraska company called Federal Signal Corp. It's upgrading Hawaii's outdoor siren system.

"We had asked them to conduct some testing yesterday, which they had done. But upon conclusion of the testing they neglected to take these sirens out of their testing program," State Civil Defense Vice Director Doug Mayne said.

When the company ran a test for another state, Oahu's sirens turned on. Not just one blast, but a series that had people confused.

"It quit. Then it came back on. Then it quit. About three times it came on," said Kaimuki resident John Kokubun.

Mayne said Honolulu police determined no emergency and shut off the sirens. But the program was still on.

"The test system was still running in the background, so it would turn it back on again. HPD would turn them off, and it would turn on again," he said.

The company finally figured out what was happening and hit the off switch.

People we spoke with did the right thing, tuning in to radio and TV to get the scoop.

"This is a cry wolf experience," Prigian said. "Next time might not be an accident."

Civil Defense apologizes for the inconvenience.  Mayne said there is a silver lining.

"We know it can be triggered from the mainland," he said. "And we know that the systems that turn them off work."

Federal Signal said it has instituted protocols to keep the siren malfunction from happening again.

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