Sarnia emergency system gets upgrade

Sarnia residents should soon be able to hear emergency sirens a lot better.

The city is spending $95,000 to upgrade the emergency warning system according to Emergency Management Coordinator Cal Gardner.

Right now there are 11 sirens in Sarnia-Lambton, says Gardner. The city will be installing two new sirens at a central city park. There are already four there but Gardner says they point in a southerly direction. This installation will double the power and give “360 degree coverage. “It will help cover a dead zone between Confederation, Campbell, and Vidal Streets.”

Eventually, Gardner says the city will add more sirens further north.

And while Gardner is investigating the possibilities of using social media for emergencies, Sarnia’s Mayor says sirens will always be part of the city’s emergency plans. “I’ve had mixed feelings on the sirens …City Hall is a totally sealed in building and you really can’t hear sirens,” says Bradley. “I started to think it had passed as a means of communications, until I was reminded it was for people outside cutting the lawn or out lake.

“I think you need as many tools as you possibly can have and we wouldn’t be spending money if it wasn’t part of our long-term communication.”

Bradley adds the importance of using the older technology was highlighted recently in Oklahoma where the suburb of Monroe was flatted by a powerful tornado. The sirens sounded 16 minutes before the weather hit, saving lives.

“When we do talk about the sirens people think there about the industrial situation but they are for environmental event,” says Bradley.

“60 years after the tornado here (in Sarnia’s downtown) it’s still branded in our psyche. We’re very conscious of weather …because you can have a combination of the two, major natural disaster and then you have an issue with local industries.”

– Heather Wright