Disconnection of Tsunami Sirens

From September, the tsunami sirens paging system in our District will be disconnected. 

You can find out more about tsunami's and how you can be prepared for an emergency on our Council's Civil Defence webpage. 

Background

On 31 July 2020, the Chief Executive received a letter from the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management advising that our Council’s tsunami siren paging system was now non-compliant with national standards. Unless compliance was confirmed, the paging system had to be disconnected. To achieve compliance and provide an effective tsunami siren alerting system throughout our District was costed to be in excess of $5 million.

In 2016 our Council began investigating alternate options to tsunami sirens and spent the next four years working on and developing an IAD (indoor alerting device) This project was scrapped in 2020 once the full risk assessment had been completed and assessed by Council, at the same time Council reconfirmed that it would not support the continuation of sirens as an alerting tool given that they may only reach 44% of the population when activated.

In 2019, there was a nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system to gauge its effectiveness. Results from the test can be found here

By the end of 2020, our staff was able to demonstrate that the national cell alert system, Red Cross app, radio coverage and Wi-Fi would reach between 80 and 90 per cent of people on the Coromandel Peninsula during a peak period such as Christmas. This technology plus natural warning signs such as a strong earthquake, new signage and messaging and word of mouth would provide effective alerting coverage should a tsunami alert be activated.

Originally, disconnection of the siren paging system was planned to be completed by 2022 but was later changed to 2021 after discussions with FENZ and the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed that it could be completed earlier as the safety risk to residents and visitors by disconnecting did not exist due to new technology far exceeding siren coverage.

Of the 27 sirens located throughout the District all but nine are connected to the FENZ siren network. Those nine sirens are located on Council land at Whangamatā, Pauanui and Matarangi and are stand-alone tsunami sirens, all constructed between 2006 and 2011 with Community Board funding. 

The disconnection will have no impact on Fire and Emergency’s alerting systems in the Coromandel. 

Tsunami sirens FAQ document 

We have developed a FAQ document to answer a lot of the questions that our communities have. The document includes information on why we are disconnecting our sirens, when they will be disconnected and other ways you can be alerted and stay safe in an emergency. 

Download the document here or on the right-hand side of this page.