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Kodiak officials say some city tsunami sirens not working

January 12, 2019

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Kodiak officials say nearly half of the city’s aging tsunami warning sirens are not working.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports city manager Mike Tvenge made the disclosure this week at a City Council work session.

Five of the city’s 12 sirens are inoperable, including one near the harbor master’s office.

At the meeting, council members discussed maintenance options and the possibility of replacing the sirens.

Later in the week, the council added a funding request to a capital improvements project list, making it the No. 2 priority. The top priority is replacing the city’s fire station.

Tvenge says most of the sirens were installed in the early 1980s. The original sirens were installed in the early 1950s and 1960s, with one still operable.

Officials want to request $1.25 million for tsunami siren upgrades.

“These sirens are beyond the recognized lifespan of 20 years and require annual maintenance,” states a resolution to add the siren upgrades to the capital improvements list.

Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson said dealing with the problem is important.

“These are people’s lives we’re talking about,” Branson said.

Tvenge said the sirens run on batteries, which are kept charged, rather than a direct electrical current.

“The siren is activated by a switch, run through the battery — and once the battery runs down, it turns the connection off and starts charging the battery up. That’s why the sound might go down.” Tvenge said.

The system does not automatically provide information on whether a siren is broken. But the sirens are tested every Wednesday. If the city gets a report that a siren is not working, staff will listen specifically to that siren during the testing.

Council member John Whiddon noted there was a possible system deficiency. He said he doubts anyone from the “city is going to run around and make sure the sirens are working” if there is an actual emergency.

He said he wondered if there is an effective way implement an indicator system to identify working sirens and non-working sirens.

Tvenge said the city has not yet looked into the options.

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