News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinesecurity — Viewing Item

Cold war sirens for terror alerts

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Cold War-Era Sirens Used As Terror Alerts
Mon Jul 14, 4:59 PM ET Add Top Stories - AP to My Yahoo!

By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY - Cold War-era sirens may be revived as terrorism warnings. Cities including Oklahoma City, Chicago and Dallas have upgraded their outdoor warning systems with a type of siren that can carry voice announcements an idea that officials say took on added importance in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Sirens have long been used for storm disasters, but now the Federal Emergency Management Agency (news - web sites) is studying whether they can warn people of biological, chemical or nuclear attack.

"You have all kinds of new systems," said Timothy Putprush, a telecommunications specialist with FEMA. "You originate a message. You need to get it out to the population."

Thousands of sirens were built across the country during the Cold War to warn citizens in case of nuclear attack, but the federal government stopped the program and the sirens fell silent in many of the nation's largest cities. Other cities put them to use to warn of tornadoes.

But terrorism warnings emerged as a new use for the sirens after Sept. 11. The federal government is currently updating the nation's civil preparedness guide to discuss improved ways of notifying the public of emergencies, and that includes the use of sirens.

In Oklahoma City, taxpayers agreed to spend $4.5 million several years ago to upgrade its Cold War-era warning system with 181 new sirens covering a 622-square-mile area in the city.

The sirens, together with news reports and special radios that emit a loud alarm in times of weather emergencies, helped prevent loss of life when tornadoes raked the Oklahoma City area on May 8 and 9. More than 300 homes were destroyed but only one person was killed, an elderly man who fell and hit his head while taking shelter.

The sirens can be particularly useful to people who are not listening to the radio or watching television.

"If you've got a weather radio in your house, it doesn't do much for you when you're at the ballpark," said Kerry Wagnon, director of public safety capital projects in Oklahoma City.

Wagnon also said the sirens could be used in the event of a terrorist attack like the one that killed 168 people in 1995.

Radio and television news reports are the warning method of choice in many large cities, where old civil defense sirens have fallen into disrepair.

"When the money dried up, the ability to maintain them, based on a perception of the threat, went away," said Bob Canfield, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Department.

Sirens would not be of much use in Los Angeles because the sprawling urban area does not face the kinds of natural disasters for which they are most useful, he said.

"They're no good for earthquakes (news - web sites), and tornadoes are not our thing," Canfield said.

Jarrod Bernstein, a spokesman in New York City's Office of Emergency Preparedness, says battery-operated radios make more sense than wailing sirens in his densely populated urban area of more than 8 million people.

"We just don't think it's a practical system for New York City," he said.

While not dismissing sirens, officials in Washington are looking at other options including electronic text messaging and a reverse 911 system that would telephone citizens in an emergency, said Jo'Ellen Countee of the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency.

"A lot of people want sirens people who are old enough to remember sirens," Countee said.

Electronic messages might work for people with a cell phone, but Putprush said visitors at the district's many monuments or on the National Mall would need an outdoor warning.

"There are thousands and thousands of tourists there at any time of day," he said. "That would be a great application for it."

16k murders usa 2002 { June 16 2003 }
America gestapo
Americans want lobby records disclosed to public { January 27 2006 }
Anti terrorism powers
Area51 watchdog raided
Big brother society aclu
Bioweapons labs built all over us
Bmw trapped computer crashed { May 13 2003 }
Britain 4m cctv surveillance cameras
Bush 911 02 speech { September 12 2002 }
Cia asks colleges more black recruits { September 16 2003 }
Cia expands airplane front companies { May 31 2005 }
Cold war sirens for terror alerts
Colombia citizen spies { August 29 2002 }
Congressman ron paul warns of police state { December 20 2004 }
Dc air defense { September 11 2002 }
Dc police traveled to israel for tactics { August 4 2004 }
Detained at airport for harry potter { October 18 2001 }
Drugs terrorism { August 8 2002 }
England draconian laws { November 14 2001 }
Extends secrecy area 51
Fbis made mafia man
Federal agents raid hells angels sites { December 3 2003 }
Fema no longer focused on domestic disaster { September 6 2005 }
Fire fighters question president cuts first responders
Fireworks and sharpshooters welcome 2004 new york { January 1 2004 }
Fireworks homeland security rules { May 30 2003 }
Fox arrest { March 20 2002 }
Hong kong subversion law
Israel help targeted killings
Israeli scientists crack cell phone security { September 3 2003 }
Israelis fingerprinted us visa { November 26 2003 }
J edgar hoover [jpg]
Judge asks arab woman if terrorist { May 21 2003 }
Liberal imperialism { April 7 2002 }
Loosened intelligence
Man lost citizenship for nazi activities
Michigan city june riots { June 18 2003 }
Microsoft multi million homeland contract
Missiles at dc { February 2003 } [jpg]
Monitor bioterror health data { January 27 2003 }
Muslim raids { March 28 2002 }
New australian terror laws { June 26 2003 }
Newyork disease warning system { April 4 2003 }
Ottawa canada big brother { February 1 2003 }
Pakistani photo innocent
Passes terror insurance { November 15 2002 }
Patrol dc vehicles stinger missiles
Pens confiscated at travolta movie
Police dress homeless { May 27 2003 }
Police radio dead spots cell phones { August 18 2003 }
Police wonder why taser ignites petrol soaked man
Portland police excessive force blind 71 year woman { April 23 2004 }
Pre 911 pulls sites { September 10 2001 }
Security clearance jobs more financial beneficial { February 9 2006 }
Security efforts turning capital into armed camp { February 22 2004 }
Security over new years parties
Security tightens worldwide
Tanks readied { July 18 2002 }
Taser to blame in heart failures
Trains teen gestapo
Tri state security { March 20 2003 }
Uk abuse
UncleSamYourFreedoms [jpg]
Us raids warez servers across ten countries { April 23 2004 }
US reclassifies many documents in secret review { February 21 2006 }

Files Listed: 66


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple