Sultan adds to its siren system

SULTAN — Three new emergency sirens have been installed in Sultan to warn folks to evacuate in case of a disaster.

They look a bit like futuristic stacked frisbees, mounted on 50-foot poles.

Along with a previously installed siren at Sultan Elementary, they chime each day at noon.

The sound is called the Westminster Chimes, a classic melody most often associated with clock towers.

“It’s a very pleasant sound,” Fire Chief Merlin Halverson said.

The sirens project involved city staff, the fire district, the school district and the hospital district, Halverson said. They’ve been working on it for about seven years, after a previous siren system became unreliable.

The new sirens were funded through mitigation fees related to the Snohomish County PUD’s re-licensing of the Henry M. Jackson Hydroelectric Project.

If the Culmback Dam were to give way, the town of Sultan would have about 45 minutes to evacuate before being obliterated by a 45-foot wall of water and debris, Halverson said.

The siren at Sultan Elementary School was installed a few years back. In addition to siren sounds, the devices can be used to broadcast live and pre-recorded messages.

The sirens also could be used for major flooding or other emergencies.

The three new sirens are installed and have been tested. Work continues this week to connect them to the electrical grid, said Mick Matheson, the city public works director.

The new locations are:

The Wastewater Treatment Plant on the west side of the Sultan River.

East end of town, south of the highway, on fire district property.

Off Trout Farm Road, on industrial land north of town.

The new sirens and installation are expected to cost about $175,000 when the project is completed, city clerk Laura Koenig said.

The siren at Sultan Elementary was paid for by a grant from the county Department of Emergency Management, Halverson said.

The city also received some money from the PUD related to a fish habitation project on the Sultan River.

Meanwhile, the fire district has asked for feedback on the current noon testing time via its Facebook page. The time could be changed if enough folks respond, Halverson said.

The locations of the sirens were based on computer models to reach as much of the town as possible, he said.

In addition, the city, fire district and schools host annual evacuation drills to get folks to high ground quickly if the dam breaks.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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