February 25, 2008
Brown to Test Emergency Warning Siren System
Brown University will test its new emergency warning siren system on Thursday Feb. 28, 2008, between noon and 1 p.m. Three transmitters located on top of University buildings will be activated, resulting in a loud warning sound and voice messages. The system is intended to alert the community in the event of a life-threatening emergency. The sirens will be tested twice a year to ensure the system remains operational and to keep community members familiar with the alarm tone.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Brown University will test its new Emergency Siren Warning System (ESWS) on Thursday Feb. 28, 2008, between noon and 1 p.m. Three sirens, located on top of University buildings on the main campus, will be activated to test the system for the first time. The test will include a loud alert tone coupled with voice messages. The ESWS is designed to alert students, faculty, visitors and the College Hill community of a potential life-threatening emergency.
“We want the entire community to be aware of the test,” said Michael Chapman, vice president for public affairs and University relations. “It is important that people on the campus and in the surrounding communities become familiar with the tone and understand that this is only a test. We are doing all we can to ensure that local residents are informed about the time and date when this fairly loud test will occur.”
For the last year, an emergency warning system working group, formed by representatives from the University and several Providence city agencies including emergency management, police, fire and communications, has been addressing issues and concerns involved in implementing such a system. “We have all worked together to ensure that the Brown community as well as the community at large can be well informed in the event of an emergency,” said Providence Assistant Fire Chief Michael Dillon.
The system will be activated only for life-threatening emergencies when there is no advance warning and it is imperative that people immediately seek shelter indoors. The ESWS will not sound for most emergencies that may occur on or near the Brown University campus. Non-spontaneous weather events, such as a blizzard or hurricane, would not warrant activation of the system. Emergencies that would likely require ESWS activation include a hostile intruder, a large chemical release or unpredictable natural disasters such as a tornado.
In the event of an emergency that required use of the ESWS, the Brown University Department of Public Safety would activate the system. The alarm will consist of an alert tone as well as a voice message regarding the nature of the emergency. “I am proud of this new initiative,” said Brown Chief of Police Mark Porter. “It is the latest in a series of enhancements we have introduced to be as prepared as we can be in the event of an emergency.”
The ESWS will be used in conjunction with other emergency warning systems recently installed on the University campus, including a MIR3 notification system. MIR3’s Web-based alert system has already been implemented and successfully tested at Brown. It delivers two-way advisories and instructions to nearly 20,000 students, faculty, staff and others via cell phones, landlines, wireless PDAs, text pagers, and other communication devices.
In an emergency, the warning system would be augmented by the city’s communications system to alert the broader community of a threat. The city’s “reverse 911” system can call residents and provide them with accurate and timely information about the threat and provide possible further instructions.
System testing will be done periodically to ensure operation. A full system test must be done at least twice annually, and silent testing will be done at least monthly to protect the status of the system. Notification regarding the ESWS tests will be done through the media, with separate notifications to the Brown University community and neighbors.
For more information on the ESWS, including audio of the siren
sound, go to:
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.