Pierce County residents living near the outdoor warning system will hear new sounds and voice instructions when the system is tested at noon on Monday, Nov. 2.
The warning system, originally installed to warn of a lahar from Mt. Rainier, will notify com-munities about other hazards including flooding, wildfires and other crisis situations. Addi-tionally, the monthly test tone is different. For many years, people have heard the system’s siren during the monthly tests. That sound will be replaced with a chime – some people com-pare it to the Westminster chime on a clock – when the system is tested at noon the first Monday of every month.
The system will use the “wail” siren during a lahar and a steady warning sound for other emergencies.
Eight new sirens were added to help keep the community informed. These additions bring the total number of sirens to 42. The new sirens are located at the Port of Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup, Sumner, Orting, South Prairie, Wilkeson, Carbonado, McKenna, Alder Lake, Elbe, and Ashford.
Original siren sites are in the Puyallup River valley stretching from Orting to Fife and Port of Tacoma.
Other upgrades include new satellite equipment, strobing blue side lights, and voice capabil-ity to alert people. The voice alerts will be heard in English and Spanish. The strobe lights will attract additional attention to the warnings.
“This critical system is designed to get the attention of people who are outside, so they know to get more information from their phone, computer or local media. During an emergency Pierce County would use multiple methods – including this system – to notify people of an emergency,” said Jody Ferguson, director of the department of emergency management.
The upgraded and expanded siren system is part of the county’s larger warning system that includes PCALERT, the Wireless Emergency Alert, the Emergency Alert System, and NOAA Weather Radio.
Pierce County Emergency Management funded the upgrade and expansion with a $1.7 mil-lion grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Visit the Outdoor Warning System page to hear the new sounds and learn more. You can see a video of the new system here.
Mike Halliday, Public information specialist
Department of Emergency Management