lvn150520siren1: An employee from Caldow Builders in Foxton helps lay the foundation for the new siren tower at the Levin Fire and Emergency Station on Queen Street.

The piercing shrill of emergency siren at Levin Fire Station has gone deathly quiet midway through the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

There is no cause for alarm though. It is still business as usual for the 30-strong Levin Fire and Emergency team, who are attending just as many call outs as they normally do - more than 400 last year.

The pole on which the siren sits, originally built in the early 1980s, had become structurally unsound and is being replaced.

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Expected to be up and wailing again in weeks, the shrill of the siren, which can be heard in the outer reaches of town kilometres away from the source, will sound exactly the same as it always has.

An employee from Caldow Builders in Foxton helped lay the foundation for the new siren tower at the Levin Fire and Emergency Station.
An employee from Caldow Builders in Foxton helped lay the foundation for the new siren tower at the Levin Fire and Emergency Station.

The old pole was not up to modern earthquake safety requirements and had been tagged for replacement before the outbreak of Covid-19.

The new 14m-tall pole, manufactured by a company in Ashurst company, was erected by a team from Caldow Builders in Foxton this week.

Assistant Area Commander Ian Penn said when the old tower was first erected, it acted as a call to arms for the band of fire service volunteers in the event of an emergency.

That was largely the case when he first joined the fire service in 1987 too.

But a lot has changed since. Commander Penn said thanks to advances in technology, the service had continued unimpeded while the old pole was taken down and the new one erected.

Volunteers are alerted to emergency call outs through a paging system that tells them the nature of the emergency and where it is, often minutes before the emergency siren is activated anyway.

"For us, nothing has changed. Everything is working as normal with no issues," he said.

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Volunteers also received text alerts, and there are also alerts on an AMS (Availability Management System).

"Prior to them leaving home they know where it is and what it's about," he said.

More than 160 of the 637 Fire and Emergency Stations in New Zealand no longer have sirens.