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Emergency Siren / PA System



What do the sirens look like?

There are three siren towers located around campus that have omni-directional speakers at the top of each tower. Some people have likened the speakers to a large birdhouse while other people have viewed them as Frisbees stacked on top of one another. This unique design gives the speakers the capability of broadcasting sound or voice information in a simultaneous 360 degree pattern.

Is this the only way the campus community is alerted to an emergency?

No. The University believes in redundancy in emergency notification. Although the siren/PA system will be a prominent part of the University's emergency warning system, all members of the University community should enroll in WCU Alerts and select another method for receiving emergency notifications.

What kind of sound will the siren make?

The sirens have the capability to emit a variety of alert tones. The University has chosen to use a high/low tone to alert the community to an emergency. After the initial siren tone is complete, a pre-recorded or live voice message will follow providing information regarding the emergency and suggested follow-up actions. At the conclusion of an emergency, there will be an " All Clear" signal indicating that the emergency is over.

Emergency Alert (high/low tone)

All-Clear (long clear tone)

Test (whoop tone)

What does it mean when I hear a siren?

A siren sound alert means that there is an emergency on campus, a potentially dangerous condition, or impending threat. Tune into the University radio station WWCU-FM (90.5 FM) and listen for information and/or instructions. Emergencies would be a person with a gun, flooding, a large building fire with toxic smoke or a chemical release into the air, a HAZMAT incident, or the approach of severe weather.

Will all siren activations mean that there is an emergency on campus?

No. The sirens must be tested at regular intervals. The University tests the siren system at noon on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Please remember this test day. The test tone will sound differently than the emergency high/low tone. Additionally, there may be maintenance performed on a particular siren or the entire system that requires activating the siren(s). In cases of siren/PA system maintenance where it is necessary to sound the siren(s), the campus community will be notified in advance.

If I'm inside my resident hall, class, or office, will I hear the siren?

The siren/PA system is designed to alert people outdoors. Some people will be able to hear the siren and PA indoors, depending on how close the indoor location is to the nearest siren and depending on the volume of other noise indoors, such as a TV, radio, or machinery. Since there is the possibility that people who are indoors may not hear or clearly hear the siren/PA system, it is important to enroll in WCU Alerts and receive alerts through other forms of communication.

If I'm driving, will I hear the siren?

The siren/PA system is designed to provide all of the campus with audio coverage. However, depending upon how close you are to the siren when it goes off, whether your car windows are open or closed, and whether there is audio interference in your vehicle from other sources such as a cellular telephone or stereo system, you may or may not hear the siren.

How does the siren/PA system operate?

The siren/PA system will be activated from the University Police Communications Center. The system is radio-operated using a dedicated radio frequency. The system is computer-controlled using digital technology with a manual system back-up. During an emergency, the siren(s) can be activated to turn one siren on or complete system activation. A back-up system for remote operation exists. The sirens are monitored on a daily basis and problems are reported to the communications center. For security, the sirens have vandal/tamper alarms on them. If someone attempts to damage or break into the unit, the intrusion will be reported and police will be dispatched to that siren location.

Why are the siren towers located at their respective sites?

The vendors who bid on the siren/PA system were required to conduct a campus visit and site survey. As part of this visit and survey, they were required to identify locations that provided optimum audio coverage for the campus. Therefore, the sites at which the current towers are located were determined by the successful vendor to provide this optimum coverage.

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