Press Releases

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Check out the "How it's Made" the television series, featuring the making of a Whelen Mass Notification Siren.

March 4, 2011

Emergency Sirens Ready in Little Axe
By Ledger Staff

New emergency sirens are now installed in the Little Axe area in Norman, OK far ahead of the severe storm season. The one above, located just east of 168th on Alameda St., is along the path of the May 10 tornado that hit Country Boy Market.

The $2.1 million project includes 66 new state-of-the-art emergency sirens and was approved by Norman voters last March. The omni-directional sirens are made by Whelen, producing 129 decibels (dBc) @ 100′.

Wednesday, 02 March 2011

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The National Emergency management agency is in the process of installing a severe weather warning siren system throughout The Bahamas. Click here to read more.

Yet Another New York State University Chooses Mid-State Communications & Electronics and Whelen Engineering

RPI’s Rensselaer Campus is a 275 acre blend of modern style and classic design. Built into a hillside, RPI overlooks the historic city of Troy and the Hudson River.

In July of 2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute approved its new Whelen Outdoor Warning System. On July 8th, an initial test of the Whelen outdoor warning system was performed. The system consists of four siren speaker arrays located atop buildings on the Troy campus of RPI. The sirens will be used in the event of emergencies on the Troy campus. According to Steve Abrams, Director of Emergency Management at Rensselaer, “it is the most recent addition to the comprehensive RPIAlert communications system.”

The system installed at RPI includes siren alert tones as well as digital voice messages and live public address capability. In addition, other components of the RPIAlert system include voice mail, email and texting. Multiple warning systems using various forms of technology help to inform students and faculty of emergency information, regardless of their location.

Mark Frost, director of physical plant at RPI is very pleased with the overall system installation. According to Frost “Mid-State Communications and their installation team were very professional throughout the process and successfully installed a system which met or exceeded local electrical and building codes. Mid-State Communications was helpful and informative during the design process and were very cooperative when asked to incorporate some campus input into their final system design. The installation phase of the project went exceptionally well and Mid-State’s interactions with our in-house staff as well as our campus community was always cordial and professional. Our continuous communications with Mid-State during and after installation were helpful in insuring that the Project was implemented successfully. The end result was 100% system performance during our initial operational test of the system.”

Hamilton College Chooses Whelen & Mid-State For Outdoor Warning

On Friday August 28, 2009, Hamilton College took delivery and held the first live test of its new Campus Outdoor Warning System. The system worked as expected and was heard across the entire 350-acre main campus.
Hamilton’s warning system was designed to remain as inconspicuous as possible while providing ample warning in the event of an incident. Two WHELEN WPS2902 voice and tone systems were mounted on building rooftops while another was mounted on a 60-foot wooden pole along the eastern edge of the campus.

The system was designed to be activated from a fixed location or, in the event that location is impractical to use during an emergency, from a mobile controller. The control system includes two-way diagnostic feedback and WHELEN’s Si-Test feature, which allows Hamilton College to silently test the system without disturbing the campus or having to visit each site.

“The outdoor warning system is just one part of our multi-layered campus emergency notification plan,” said Director of Campus Safety Fran Manfredo, “and we are extremely satisfied with the final product. Obviously, no one wants to think about having to use any type of emergency notification system, but Hamilton has taken the necessary steps to protect our students, faculty and guests in the event of an emergency. Mid-State Communications, as our supplier, was involved from the design stage to final testing and helped to make the process as simple as possible.”

Residents heard a loud siren around noon on Friday

Updated: Friday, 23 Oct 2009, 5:35 PM EDT Published : Friday, 23 Oct 2009, 4:42 PM EDT

Melissa Sardelli
Reported by: Pete Mangione

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - If you were down near the Providence harbor area around noon on Friday, you may have been startled by a very loud siren.

The siren was only a test of the new warning system put in by the Providence Emergency Management Agency. The siren, which is followed by a voiced instruction, is primarily aimed at warning outdoor workers about life threatening emergencies such as a chemical spill or a tornado.

"Those workers that are outside, working in the port, working in the scrap yard, loading fuel in the trucks, have the ability to hear an emergency message outdoors," said PEMA Director Peter Gaynor.

The system has four sirens in total including at Conley’s Wharf, one at Allens Avenue and Earnest Street, and one near Silver Spring Golf Course in East Providence. A fourth siren at Johnson and Wales harbor side campus is designed to warn students about a hostile intruder.

Abbey Reedy a sophomore Johnson and Wales said, "Everyone knows about Virginia Tech, and if they could prevent something like that here that would be awesome."

Mary Kate Peltz said, "I think it could be a good thing if students were aware of what it would of meant,"

PEMA officials say the test went well today and that the system fully functional, and ready to go.


"Giant Voice" alerts base to attacks and natural disasters
by Pacifica Chehy
Capital Flyer staff writer

9/25/2009 - ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- Every morning at 7 a.m. reveille is sounded and the national anthem is played at retreat in the late afternoon at 5 p.m.

Every Wednesday like clockwork a base-wide announcement is heard, "This is a test. This is a test of the Giant Voice System. This is only a test." Who exactly is the 'Giant Voice,' and what is the system for?

"There isn't one person who is the Giant Voice," explained Tech. Sgt. Joseph Brady, NCO in charge of console operations for the Andrews Regional Command Post and 316th Wing Command Post. "In fact, the 113th Wing (D.C. Air National Guard) uses the system as well."

While a few base residents may view the Giant Voice as a nuisance, Sergeant Brady said the system should be viewed as a tool. The command post, the primary command and control node for both the Air Force National Capital Region and the president's base, uses the Giant Voice for mass alert, should the base come under threat of attack or natural disaster. Command post controllers provide situational awareness to the important NCR power projection platform that is Andrews.

"One of the biggest misconceptions about the system is that you can adjust the volume - you can't. A large part of the variation in volume comes from wind direction which impacts the overall sound you hear coming over the Giant Voice - we don't control that," Sergeant Brady explained.

A radio frequency is sent base wide to the Giant Voice speakers strategically placed around the base, which is part of the reason why an echo may be heard when the national anthem is played.

In the case of war, base residents will hear three to five-minute wavering tones, like what is heard in the old-time war movies with a high pitch that then drops to a lower tone and back.

During peacetime, but under threat of severe weather, a mass notification is made to take shelter with a steady tone. Because the surrounding community immediately outside the gates can hear the Giant Voice, as well, lightning warnings are not sounded at Andrews as not to alarm non-military personnel.

"The warning system was working almost too well in that case," said Sergeant Brady. "The decision was made to only sound the Giant Voice if there was severe weather - like a tornado or hurricane - or if the base is under attack. The bottom line is, if you hear the Giant Voice and you do not hear 'This is a test' or 'Exercise, exercise, exercise,' you need to get indoors or take shelter immediately."

The summer of 2008 was a prime example of how the Giant Voice was used to alert Andrews about severe weather.

"We used the Giant Voice quite a few times last summer - especially with regard to tornado warnings. That's what we're here for - for overall base safety," he said.

Chief Master Sgt. Lee Lopez, Andrews Regional Command Post chief, agreed. "Base residents need to keep in mind that the Giant Voice is their friend; the base residents not only get to experience military tradition everyday with Reveille and Retreat, but they are kept informed when a possible disaster looms. The Giant Voice is not here to annoy - it is here to alert. It is our way of keeping you and the entire base safe."

Emergency sirens installation begins for Port of Providence

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
By Gregory Smith
Journal Staff Writer

CRANSTON — What if something bad happens at the Port of Providence, such as an accidental chemical spill? Or sudden and severe weather? Or something nefarious, such as a terrorist attack? How would the alarm go out quickly? How long would it take to evacuate the port and any affected neighborhoods?

A network of sirens and public-address loudspeakers is now being installed to warn everyone who would need to be alerted of a life-threatening emergency. The first of four planned sirens was attached to the top of a 60-foot utility pole which was set in place Monday at the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus, on the Cranston side of the border with Providence. The Harborside Campus installation would double as a warning system for Johnson & Wales students and staff in the case of a campus intruder or other danger. Public briefings about the warning system have been scheduled in Providence and East Providence, with the first set for Thursday night. And the system is expected to be heard for the first time between noon and 1 p.m. during a periodic port emergency drill scheduled for Oct. 23. One of the sirens will be installed in East Providence, since the prevailing easterly wind could carry a gaseous chemical across the Providence River and into that community. As defined by the Coast Guard, the Port of Providence includes the Providence and East Providence riverfronts.

The siren will have “an old civil defense sound,” according to Peter T. Gaynor, director of the Providence Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security, and the 60-second tone will be followed by a prerecorded message. “Attention. This is an emergency evacuation order. Remain calm. Follow the instructions of the emergency officials.” The message would be automatically repeated once. City officials then would be able to repeat the tone and stock message as often as they wanted from the four stations as well as make any ad-hoc announcement, including messages in a foreign language. J&W officials also would be able to control the station on their campus. The tone is expected to be set on maximum volume so that it is audible slightly more than a mile away, depending on the wind, and the voice, about half that distance. Right now, according to Gaynor, tenants at the Municipal Wharf in Providence, where much of the shipping in the river comes and goes, only have a telephone tree for systematic notification about an emergency. The City of Providence garnered a $130,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build the network.

The solar battery-powered, wireless radio-controlled siren/public address stations are being installed in East Providence, on Exxon-Mobil property off the 3300 block of Pawtucket Avenue; in Providence, on the property of Promet Marine Services Corp., a repair and maintenance yard at 242 Allens Ave.; and at the Engine Co. 13 fire house at 774 Allens Ave.; and in Cranston, south of J&W’s Harborside Village Community Building on Harborside Boulevard. Monday, an auger truck drilled a hole into the sand of the Harborside Campus. Using the arm of the truck, workmen then lifted a utility pole with the carbon-fiber loudspeaker housing fastened to one end — the housing is topped with a white strobe light as an alert for the hearing-impaired — and set it 9 to 10 feet deep. The briefings are scheduled to be held Thursday and again on Oct. 8, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium on the first floor of the Providence Public Safety Complex at Dean and Washington streets, and on Oct. 15, from 6 to 7 p.m., at East Providence City Hall on Taunton Avenue. “If there is an annoyance factor [for the public], we can ramp up” the volume in increments, said Michael Lemieux, chief technical officer of Wright Communications, of Pembroke, N.H., which has the contract to install the system. “But you do want it to be an attention-getter.” The sound that will be emitted is the same as the signal from the three-station siren network at Brown University, which became operational in 2008 and was installed in consultation with city emergency-management officials. Gaynor said he wants uniformity, in order to distinguish these signals from other emergency signals. It does not matter if someone in the vicinity of Brown mistakes the port siren for Brown’s, said Lemieux. It will prompt the public to seek additional information, according to his rationale.

Outdoor warning system installed, tested - Canton, IL - Canton Daily Ledger

GateHouse News Service
Fri Oct 02, 2009,

A new electronic Outdoor Warning System, a part of the Canton ESDA system, went up and was tested. The system replaces an aging mechanical storm siren near the Assembly of God Church on Stonegate Drive in Canton.

According to Canton Emergency Services Disaster Agency Director Phil Fleming, while the old siren had a horn which revolved on the pole, the new system has no moving parts and the sound radiates in all directions at the same time. Fleming says the new system should give improved warning to people out of doors when severe weather or other dangers occur. He also explains the system is not designed to warn people who are already indoors, as they should be able to receive warnings from NOAA weather radios or commercial radio and television.

Workers arrived on the scene early on Tuesday morning to disconnect the electric power. Then, a crew from Ragan Communications of Washington, Ill., began removing the old Federal Thunderbolt siren and were assisted by a crew from a utility contractor. Fleming says that by late morning the siren was down, and then the old mounting pole was removed.

“It was discovered that the pole was embedded in about two feet of concrete, which hampered efforts at first, but eventually the pole came down, ” says Fleming. A new, taller pole was readied for installation during the afternoon, with the new electronic speakers being attached to the pole, and wiring run to near the base of the pole. “The new pole was lifted up and placed into the hole vacated by its predecessor and set precisely vertical. Then the control boxes, radio antenna, security light, and electrical boxes were installed,” explains Fleming of the process. “By 4 p.m. the job was done and the new system was in service,” says Fleming.

After the system was connected, it was tested. A public-address feature was used to announce the test, and then each warning sound was tested for several seconds. The new Outdoor Warning System is manufactured by Whelen Engineering of Chester, Connecticut. Two other Whelen systems of this type are already in service in Canton, along with a slightly smaller unit. The old siren had an estimated range of up to 5,200 feet and the new system is designed to be heard up to 6,200 feet from the siren.

Fleming also noted that the Canton Public Works Department assisted with the removal of the old siren.

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