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Denver’s Updated Siren System Might Have Some Dead Spots

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Emergency siren (credit: CBS)

Emergency siren (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – It’s a sound that gets people’s attention, and now it’s blaring better than before. On Wednesday the city of Denver tested its improved emergency warning system to make sure it’s ready in case of tornadoes, flooding and other dangers.

The warning system now features 77 new or updated sirens spread around town. But during Wednesday’s test, not everybody heard them.

“It was really loud. It’s definitely going to get everybody’s attention,” resident Ramona Vigil said.

The nearly $2 million project replaced a system that was in place for decades.

“They were mostly installed in the 50s and 60s, so they were having some reliability issues,” Scott Field with the Office of Emergency Management said.

LINK: View A Map Of The Siren System

The state-of-the-art solar powered sirens are smaller and mounted closer to the ground, as opposed to the roof-mounted predecessors.

“The coverage pattern with the old sirens was very spotty, so this gives us much better coverage throughout the city,” Field said.

At least that was the plan. CBS4 asked people on the 16th Street Mall just after the sirens went off if they had heard them and many said they didn’t.

“You can’t hear it. That not doing what it’s supposed to be doing apparently. I didn’t really know anything about it,” a mall patron said.

“That surprises me, and we will definitely check into that,” Field said.

Field says tall buildings may have hurt the acoustics downtown.

“It’s pretty bad to build something that expensive to have it not work,” the mall patron said.

The whole purpose of doing the test was to make sure that the coverage pattern was good throughout the city. Field said they might have to add more sirens in the area around the 16th Street Mall.

Since 2001 Denver’s siren system has been activated 28 times for actual emergencies.

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