Disconnection of Tsunami Sirens

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Public Forums 

We are holding public forums in Thames and Coromandel Town on Thursday 13 May. Anyone who would like to know more about the disconnection of the tsunami sirens and how you can stay informed in an emergency, is welcome to come along. 

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. 

Other Alerting Methods 

Click on the headings to learn more. 

Emergency Mobile Alert 

  • EMAs are a Government led initiative and are triggered by serious hazards and emergencies. They send alerts to cell phones in New Zealand to update communities and list actions that need to be taken, if any.
  • Over the last few years this has been tested and improved so that it’s effective for communities in NZ.
  • In 2019 there was a nationwide test of the EMA where 77 per cent of NZers received the alert. Read the results here. 

Red Cross Hazards app 

  • The hazard app to help communities best prepare for and respond to hazards and emergencies.
  • Alerts will only be sent for locations and hazards you are monitoring i.e. you’d have to have your location as Coromandel and your hazards set to earthquake and tsunami to be alerted if an emergency occurs – you can set multiple hazards and locations to be alerted for.
  • Download this app in Google Play or Apple App Store – it’s available on all devices.

Community Response Plans 

  • Most communities in our District now have a completed Community Response Plan which is a guide to assisting response at a local level
  • These plans are developed with the help of the local communities. We have 28 Community Response Plans in our District. Get in touch with our Civil Defence team if your community hasn’t got a response plan but needs one.
  • Read the response plan for your community here. 

Education Campaigns 

From July 2021, our Council is investing in an extensive education campaign using signage on all main beaches, strengthening of community response groups and investing in targeted advertising campaigns to inform our communities about what they should be doing in an emergency, and what alerting options there are.

Timeline 

On 16 February, our Emergency Management team met with Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) and agreed on the following timeline for the project:

  • February and early March – Compile data, stats and information on siren alerting, Tsunami threats, ownership of the community sirens, advanced alerting options, design, presentation material and communications plan.
  • March – The project team will meet to finalise material to present, communications plan, media, timing, community meetings, venues and messaging.
  • Late March -  Final sign off by project team
  • May - Community meetings (Whangamatā, Pauanui & Tairua, Whitianga, Matarangi, Coromandel, Te Puru, Thames)
  • May to September – Continue with communications and promotion of alternate options
  • 30 September – Complete disconnection of the paging system.

It is important to note that in July 2021 our Council's Emergency Management Unit will be launching the ‘Tsunami Evacuation’ project. This is a district-wide education and promotion of safe evacuation routes using beach access signage, community fact sheets, advertising, app alerts and media. This programme will continue through summer 2021/22.

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.

(Above: Map showing the location of tsunami sirens and around the Coromandel)

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.