DENVER -- Beginning in the 1950s, the Federal Government used the Civil Defense system to alert citizens about potential dangers.
When the system first went on line it was for air raids related to World War II, then they were in place for nuclear attack, and following 9/11, for attacks from terrorists.
The system involved a series of sirens mounted on schools and other public buildings which went off when danger was imminent.
But over the years the sirens have fallen upon disrepair, parts are hard to find and people have really forgotten why they hear the sirens being tested the second Wednesday of every month.
On Wednesday 12/12/12, the city of Denver rolled out new sirens which are solar powered and much louder –with more coverage—than the older Civil Defense horns.
“We are putting in 56 new horns and rebuilding another 21 to bring them up to date,” said Scott Field, the city’s Emergency/Homeland Security chief. “We think this will help keep the citizens safe in time of natural situations and other serious issues that can happen in a city such as Denver.”
People working around locations where the new sirens began wailing at 11 a.m. Wednesday rushed to windows of downtown offices to see what was going on.
When they came out to investigate, they found out that was just the WRONG thing they were supposed to do.
“In times of emergency people are being told to go inside and seek shelter in basements,” said Field.
Now, the new horns will no longer need to be tested aloud, as they are all electronic and schools where the old horns have been mounted will no longer have to call authorities to say, “Yes, the horns went off” and the length of any tests will only be about four or five seconds, instead of four or five minutes.
The system can be activated by police and fire dispatch, the Homeland Security Office and Denver International Airport.
The sirens will even work in storms that knock out power because the computers running the alerts are solar and battery powered.