Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Removing Guernsey warning sirens 'may cost lives'

Public warning siren on Victoria Tower
Deputy Le Sauvage said the sirens were the only way to warn everyone

A scheme to remove Guernsey's public warning sirens may save money but it could cost lives, a deputy has claimed.

The Home Department plans to use a text message system instead and has said the sirens are ineffective and too costly.

Deputy Janine Le Sauvage said not everyone had a mobile phone and many people put handsets on silent while at work or turned them off at night.

She said sirens were the only way everyone knew there was an emergency and the elderly would be most at risk.

Deputy Le Sauvage said: "An emergency doesn't happen conveniently between nine and five, five days a week, and you need a warning 24/7.

"For example, if it happens at three o'clock in the morning and the whole island is asleep, or most of them are asleep, with their mobile phones off, their radios off, their TVs off, then not many people are going to get the message."

WWII air raids

The Home Department said text messages would tell islanders to tune into local radio stations or television broadcasters for more information about an emergency, such as noxious fumes, a toxic spill, power failures, or problems with the water supply.

The sirens could not be heard across the entire island, it added.

And replacing the siren system, which had come to the end of its usable life, would cost between £500,000 and £750,000.

Sure, one of the three local telecommunications providers, said talks with the States about providing a text message alert system were at an initial stage.

The sirens have not been sounded for an emergency since they were used for their original purpose as air raid sirens during World War II.

In 1980, a final two sirens were installed, taking the total number in the island to 14.

Two years later, the Civil Defence Committee looked into updating the system but was stopped by budgetary constraints.

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Island's warning sirens removed
26 Jan 10 |  Guernsey


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