Kodiak residents had a bit of a scare today when the tsunami alert sirens were accidentally sounded throughout the community. While folks are used to hearing the sirens on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. during the weekly test, today’s came just after noon – on a Thursday.
The National Tsunami Warning Center didn’t have any alerts posted on its website, and the Kodiak Police Department quickly notified KMXT public radio that the siren was a false alarm.
Kodiak Fire Chief Rome Kamai said the accidental trigger of the siren came when the fire department was conducting a routine test of its firefighter recall system. “Both the fire department and the police department, in particular PSAP – Public Safety Answering Point, have a software program on our computers known as PageGate. And PageGate is used to do several different things. One of them is to activate the tsunami sirens. Another use is what the fire department uses it for is to recall our off duty firefighters during emergencies – if we need to call them back.”
Kamai said that recall system is tested daily around noon. “And in particular today, the supervisor, as he was setting up the program to do the test, accidently included the tsunami activation signal into that cue. And when he pushed the send button, it sent not only the daily test, but it also activated the tsunami sirens.”
Kamai said the supervisor immediately realized what happened and contacted PSAP to request a cancellation signal. All in all it took about two minutes to get the situation cleared up.
“It was indeed an accident. We reviewed our procedures and we’re correcting what we need to so that this doesn’t happen again.”
On the bright side, it’s clear the activation system works, and the even better news is there wasn’t actually a tsunami heading toward Kodiak.
Still, Kamai admits it’s an accident that should not have happened.
“We just want to say we apologize for the accidental activation and had it been a real activation there would have been a few more systems that kicked in so that we could make sure that the public knew that this in fact was, or could be an emergency, an actual notification that a tsunami is coming.”
The alert activation system accidently triggered today is the same one that is used to sound the tsunami test siren on Wednesdays.
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