HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said it is prioritizing the maintenance of emergency sirens across the islands as some are damaged and others don’t work; It could be from wear and tear but in some cases, vandalism.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator James Barros said emergency sirens are a key part in warning people of danger.
“As a state we’ve become kind of hesitant to use the sirens because of what happened with the missle alert that’s in the past, that’s done we’ve made some corrections the sirens are there to alert the public,” said Barros.
The use of emergency sirens, or lack of, came under public scrutiny when sirens were not sounded during the Lahaina fires. Maui emergency officials at first said it would confuse residents about a potential tsunami. The state later clarified, the sirens are for all hazards.
But out of the 418 sirens located in the state, 78% of them are fully operational — 29 require maintenance from state employees, 37 need repairs by contractors and 26 do not work and will need to be replaced.
“There’s some sirens that get vandalized and the team goes out and makes an assessment, but you got to realize too these sirens are outside everyday, it’s an outdoor siren system that is dealing with the heat, dealing with the rain, the sea water,” said Barros.
Some of the sirens are over 60 years old.
One of the 26 emergency sirens that will need to be replaced includes one at the intersection of Dole Street and University Avenue and if you look closer the siren is no longer even there it’s just a pole.
KHON2 News were able to find the location of what used to be a siren with the help of a new interactive map that displays all the sirens throughout the islands. The ones marked in black will need to be replaced.
KHON2 was told that the equipment and required work puts each siren just below $200,000.
“If it’s in a tsunami evacuation zone, we need those fixed right away,” said Barros. “I need those replaced right away.”
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
Barros said the replacement sirens will be close to existing ones but some of those locations could be on private land– and acquiring a portion of it could bring some delays.