Claims that the recent Christchurch tsunami sirens test went largely unheard are not new to one Tauranga City Councillor.
Councillor Bill Grainger is concerned about the council’s decision to go ahead with the same electronic sirens as Christchurch and instead wants council to consider the installation of ‘air raid’ type sirens.
A recent report on Christchurch’s sirens indicated they were not heard by residents during a ‘test’.
Councillor Bill Grainger wants council to consider air raid tsunami sirens as opposed to electronic sirens.
“I told you so,” says Bill Grainger.
“It’s just that was the biggest concern for me. The type of sirens I’m talking about are the Carter sirens that are known world-wide.
“They are based on the old World War Two type sirens, and those sirens penetrate. It’s as simple as that, and not only that, they go the distance. Instead of 60 sirens, six or seven would do it, and that’s all we need.
“I don’t want that (electronic sirens) here in Tauranga. I want something that’s going to be effective, that everybody can hear, and that’s why I’m strongly supportive of those (world war two type).”
Councillors voted last week to select a tender for the sirens from the two remaining contenders, following a selection process.
Both siren installers are tendering on the basis of supplying 60 of the electronic sirens that will be placed on poles along the coast. The suppliers of the ‘air raid’ type sirens didn’t survive the pre selection process, staff told councillors.
At the council meeting Bill expressed concerns that the electronic sirens on 30ft poles are not going to be loud enough to wake people asleep in brick houses with double glazed windows. He wants the air raid type sirens because they have a sound that will penetrate.
City engineer Howard Severinsen says the claims of the air raid siren supplier, who took part in the selection process, were not credible and they weren’t interested in taking part in the design/build process.
Bill’s last plea at the council meeting for the use of the howlers fell on deaf ears.
During the debate councillors reminisced about the fire brigade noon siren that used to sound daily from 11th Avenue. It could be heard across the town, and as far as Greerton, and the Mount.
But the vote supported the staff selection process.
“It’s time to get something up, otherwise we will still be sitting around when the tsunami arrives and we still won’t have something up,” says Larry Baldock.
“Let’s get this done. And if we are still unhappy, look at it another time.”
Councillors say there would be a risk factor of some people not hearing the sirens, no matter how many sirens were installed or how big they were.
Meanwhile Tauranga City Council is reassuring residents following the Christchurch tests.
Howard says the report about Christchurch sirens not being heard by residents during Saturday’s test, cannot be compared to the decision made last week by the Tauranga City Council to install similar sirens along the coast line.
There are two major differences says Howard. The first is that the loudness of the sirens was not at the level it would be if they were being used in an actual emergency.
The second, and main reason, is that due to cost cutting the Christchurch City Council decided to only install 22 of the 79 sirens that were planned and needed.
New Brighton/Bexley had four sirens instead of the planned 10, at Sumner they installed three of the five planned and none were installed at all at Ferrymead where seven were planned.
People in those areas who were expecting to hear the ’test’ even though it was only at 80 dB, which is lower than an emergency would use, would not have heard much at all, says Howard.
The Tauranga City Council’s siren sound level will be at 105dB at 25 meters.
It is a shame that the expectations of Christchurch residents were not met in the test as it undermines the level of public confidence people have, says TCC Group Manager - City Services, Ian McDonald.
"In Tauranga we are installing sirens as a result of public feedback to the Council that said investment in sirens was a desirable warning system should one ever be needed,” says Ian. “So the elected members made the decision to invest in the best technology available and staff are proceeding to finalise the tender for installation shortly."