Some Maui emergency sirens didn’t sound during the Oct. 2 test
by Susan Halas, Lahaina News, Oct 10, 2023 (reprinted with permission)
HONOLULU — On Oct. 2, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) conducted a statewide test of the emergency warning sirens statewide. On Maui, a variety of areas reported that they did not hear the sirens go off, however no list or notice of the defective equipment was issued.
In response to an Oct. 3 inquiry, Paul Coe at Maui Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) responded by e-mail and confirmed that the siren did not go off in Wailuku.
He wrote: “The ArcGIS siren report runs on the 5th of each month, we will get a better understanding of siren operations then. The closest siren is Wells Park and the Maui Fire Department crew across the street confirmed that they didn’t hear it, so it will be noted on our report to the HIEMA.
“This goes to the wider problem with the Outdoor Warning Siren System,” his e-mail continued, “and that is the ability of the State to properly maintain the sirens and are they getting the funding from the State Legislature to properly do so?
“HIEMA does not have personnel on Maui to maintain the system, they respond from Oahu every couple months, so sirens can be inoperable for extended periods.”
Contacted again on Oct. 9, Coe confirmed his earlier message that the Wailuku siren near Wells Park did not go off, and he also acknowledged that there were other areas on Maui where the sirens did not sound.
Asked for specifics, he said he was not authorized to release that information, adding that it should come from HIEMA.
Adam Weintraub, communications director for HIEMA, said in an Oct. 9 phone interview that HIEMA has not yet received all the data from the 408 sirens in the system. He said he would be able to comment more fully on how many were not operating by the end of the week.
“Typically,” he said, “the two reasons a siren doesn’t work are vandalism or a lizard has crawled in and died.”
“Siren repairs, Weintraub said, can take “anywhere from a few days to months,” depending on how complicated the problem is.
He also noted that some neighborhoods have more than one siren installed, which would explain why the sirens might have been heard in one part of an area but not in another.