Civil Defense Officials Test Three Siren Warning Systems

John Dorney
John Dorney

KALAELOA (KHNL) -- Leeward Oahu plays host to an unusual competition. Sirens sound off, as civil defense officials evaluate different warning systems to better protect Hawaii residents.

"The following will be a test of the American Signal Corporation siren," an official announced.

It's like proud students at a science fair showing off their projects.

"Sure, we just all come out at high noon and we all line up," John Dorney, Acoustic Technology, Inc., said while laughing.

Three siren warning systems in different shapes and sizes. Three companies competing for bragging rights.

"This is a test of the Federal Signal warning siren," the announcer said.

"We are all over the world," Dorney said. "Petrochemical plants, military bases, communities."

"We use 100-watt drivers in our sirens," Guy Miyashiro, Federal Signal Corporation, said. "So if one goes out, you still have 2,300 watts of power up there."

"Acoustic efficiency," Dale Moeller, American Signal Corporation, said. "We're competing here with half the power, meaning half the components, half the cost."

The state says there are 279 sites across Hawaii, including more than 120 on Oahu, where warning systems need to be installed or replaced.

"This is a test of the ATI siren," the announcer said.

Civil defense officials take positions 100 and 500 feet away to check sound quality, as the vendors demonstrate their products.

The state will consider performance, ease of programming and long-term reliability before awarding the multi-million dollar contract this summer. The companies say they're competitors, not enemies.

"It's what's best for Hawaii that everyone comes," Dorney said. "And really, the best man will win I think. So we're all friends. We'll probably get a beer later."

The state funds the acquisition and installation of the emergency warning systems. The counties are responsible for operating and maintaining them.