Cause of Siren Malfunction Identified

September 13, 2013, 12:27 PM HST · Updated September 13, 4:41 PM
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Maui siren. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui siren. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

An early morning siren malfunction on Maui and Molokai was caused by a mechanical issue related to a recent upgrade of the siren warning system, officials with the Maui County Civil Defense Agency announced this afternoon.

The malfunction was initially reported on the west side of Maui at around 2:15 a.m., according to officials.

When personnel from the Maui County Civil Defense agency sent out cancel tones to stop the sirens in West Maui, it unintentionally activated audible tones lasting 5 to 10 seconds at approximately one third of the sirens on Maui and Molokaʻi, officials said.

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“The cause was traced to improper setup of control boards used on older mechanical sirens,” said State Civil Defense officials in a statement released this afternoon. “The setup of the control boards for the Maui County mechanical sirens caused them to sound for a short period when a cancellation command was sent through the system,” according to State CD officials.

Residents on Maui reported hearing the sirens at various locations between 2:15 and 3:15 a.m. including in parts of Lahaina, Kāʻanapali, Pāʻia, Mākena, and Kīhei.

State Civil Defense officials say contractors on Maui inspected four of the affected sites and made the necessary changes.

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State officials say the siren manufacturer’s representative will correct the issue on the 10 remaining sirens next week.

“In Hawaii we all associate the Statewide Outdoor Warning Sirens with emergencies,” said Doug Mayne, Vice Director of Civil Defense in an agency statement

“I would like to reassure the public that emergency siren activation will not happen without an accompanying Emergency Alert System message,” he said.

When activated, the steady tone is used to alert the public to any emergency that may pose a threat to life and property.

The Civil Defense Agency conducts a monthly siren test of the statewide outdoor siren warning system normally on the first working day of the month, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi’s broadcasting industry.

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