Air raid-style Tsunami warning in with chance

By John Cousins

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Powerful air raid-styled tsunami sirens are back in contention after the recent successful test along Tauranga's coastal suburbs by the Papamoa Progressive Association.

A report on the October 19 test, in which two modern versions of the traditional World War II siren blared over Papamoa and Mount Maunganui, was delivered to the council this week by association chairman Steve Morris.

Mr Morris said there was wide community support for the air raid-styled sirens and significant concern at the cost of the 60 Meerkat sirens when there were more cost-effective alternatives.

"Nobody lost their hearing during the test, despite being told by both a councillor and staff member that this was likely due to the decibel level of the sirens."

Mr Morris said the the council was considering spending over $800,000 on electronic sirens but the supplier of the air raid-styled sirens could cover the city with eight sirens for under $200,000.

"Residents would prefer sirens to be too loud than too quiet."

The Papamoa and Mount progressive associations want the council to restart the tender process and to allow companies to test their product in Tauranga so the community had confidence in whatever system was chosen.

Councillor Wayne Moultrie asked whether Mr Morris had any idea of the consequences if the procurement process with Meerkat were cancelled.

Mr Morris said the council should not waste money doing something the community did not want.

Quizzed by Mayor Stuart Crosby over how some residents had confused the test with the Papamoa Fire Brigade siren, Mr Morris said the brigade siren went up and down three times and stopped but evacuation warning sirens would go for 10 minutes.

"It worries me that we wake up all of Papamoa to alert six volunteer fire fighters."

Pressure came on from some councillors for the council to change direction away from the preferred tenderer, Meerkat.

City services manager Ian McDonald said the council had approved stage one of the tender process which was the consenting process and working up a design with final costings.

Councillor Larry Baldock asked if the report that came back once the stage one process was done would enable the council to look at a change of direction and the risks.

Mr McDonald said the report would allow the council to have a "robust discussion".

He said the commitment to Meerkat was only for stage one.

Asked by Councillor Murray Guy if there was any legal commitment beyond the first stage, Mr McDonald said he would have to come back with a written report.

Councillor David Stewart wanted a paper that addressed the claims that were being made by the association.

Mr McDonald said the report needed to give a complete picture rather than half a picture or else the council would end up procrastinating.

Councillor Bill Grainger asked whether they would run a test again, whatever siren was chosen. Mr Crosby said that would form part of a comprehensive report that would come back sooner rather than later.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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