Friday, November 19, 2010

Civil Alert Siren

Town sirens were part of everyday life when I was growing up. We didn't question why a siren would go off at noon, 6pm, and 10pm. It just did.

Now, many years later, I was recently reminded by Emerson resident James McClelland...
I was out for my daily walk on a beautiful fall day. It was approaching noon and just at the precise moment the Emerson fire Siren gave its daily noontime blast.

The blast was no sooner over when I heard the wail of the City of Pembina's fire whistle, three miles distant. I had not been outside at noon for a while and had forgotten about the Pembina wail. Over the years it was clearly heard in Emerson as I recall three times daily. I am not sure if it still gives its three timely signals, but they were noon, six pm and ten pm. At the time Pembina City had a curfew ordinance and this was the warning for all youngsters under sixteen, to get home.

I grew up on a farm five miles north of the border and if the wind was blowing right the Pembina Fire Whistle could be easily heard.
I decided to research it, and found out that there was more to it than we realised...

While civil defense legislation, laws, planning, and implementation goes back even further, the process that brought the civil defense sirens began in the late 1940's after WWII, as we were entering the Cold War era.  In December 1950, it was announced that a basic code of public air raid warning signals was to be used by all States and cities in event of attack.  Parameters for implementing the systems were given in July 1951.  The systems were also used as warnings in case of disasters, natural or otherwise.

Hear a test siren here.

Hear an actual warning siren here.