MALIBU—The city of Malibu has taken the first step in creating an emergency siren system by preparing a siren sound study, as announced in a June 29 statement.
“The size and ferocity of the Woolsey Fire and other California mega-wildfires was a game changer, and we are working to address the vulnerabilities that they revealed,” said Mayor Mikke Pierson.
The potential siren system is a part of an overall effort by the city of Malibu to increase disaster preparedness. The siren is specifically part of the Zero Power Plan to “increase emergency communication capabilities during widespread power and phone service outages that may occur during high wind, disasters, or SCE Public Safety Power Shutoffs.”
The city cited how the 2018 Woolsey Fire damaged cell phones, landlines, electricity, and internet which created a near communication blackout during a time of emergency. Following this, the city of Malibu began working on the Zero Power Plan.
“No system is infallible, so we have to plan for systems to fail, and the outdoor siren system could be a powerful tool as an early warning system for future wildfires in Malibu,” said Mayor Pierson.
The siren sound study itself analyzed the feasibility of the project, the effectiveness of different siren systems, and the potential locations and numbers of the sirens. The results of the siren sound study will be presented to the Public Safety Commission on August 5, during its virtual meeting.
The city of Malibu has taken steps this year to increase preparedness for future natural disasters. On July 24, the city released an emergency survival guide free to all residents. In May, Malibu released a fire preparedness survey and later offered free home fire hazard inspections. Rebuild fee waivers are available until December 30 for homes affected by the Woolsey Fire.
In addition to the proposed siren system, the Zero Power Plan also includes a plan to set up emergency supplies and information stations throughout Malibu. The stations would be manned by volunteers and have information that could be updated daily, keeping residents informed without the internet, phones, or electricity.
The city also purchased megaphones, flashing light bars, and emergency vehicle identification placards to support an emergency evacuation effort.
While Malibu’s General Fund funded the siren study, the city stated they have and will continue to apply for federal grants to offset the design and installation of the project.