By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The Big Island is expected to have at least seven warning sirens upgraded or installed over the next few months.
State Civil Defense spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said work orders are being released for the department’s $25.6 million statewide siren upgrade project. Priority locations are being addressed first, and work should occur over the next three months, she said.
In Hawaii County, those locations are King’s Landing, Halii Kai, Kolea Kai, Upchurch, Milolii, Hawaiian Beaches No. 2 and Leilani Estates.
Another three priority locations have been identified but land access agreements are still needed to transport equipment, said Darryl Oliveira, county Civil Defense administrator.
The project is intended to modernize the state’s siren system, used mostly for tsunami warnings. The aging system has been plagued by failures, with several sirens typically not responding during monthly tests on the isle.
In total, the county will receive 51 new sirens, bringing the number to 124. A new activation system that relies on cellular and satellite networks, rather than radio transmissions, will be installed, and some existing locations will also receive other upgrades, including solar panels, composite poles and more modern sirens.
The project is about 87 percent funded. It may take several years to complete.
Oliveira said two sirens were confirmed to have failed during the monthly test Monday.
Those are located in Ocean View Estates and Kalapana.
Another in Waipio Valley was already offline. Replacement parts have been ordered, Oliveira said.
He said he believes there has been improvement seen during the tests each month.
“Obviously, we’d like to shoot for 100 percent all the time,” he added.
Efforts by the Police Department to improve the radio network, used currently for activations, have helped, Oliveira said.
“We are having better performance,” he said.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.