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Laguna Beach to test new outdoor emergency warning system

A new outdoor emergency warning system at Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach.
A new outdoor emergency warning system at Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach is part of a larger network of speakers installed around town.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach is set to debut its outdoor emergency warning system on Thursday with a test at noon, city officials announced in a news release on Tuesday evening.

The outdoor warning system comprises a series of 21 loudspeakers placed throughout the town. Recently completed, it comes as a result of Laguna Beach’s Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Plan, which was approved by the City Council in July 2019.

“Nothing presents a greater risk to our public safety than a wildfire or a major earthquake,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a statement.

“This outdoor emergency warning system will save lives in the event of a major disaster. I am so pleased that the city continues to make meaningful progress on implementing the recommendations from the 2019 Wildfire Mitigation and Safety Plan.”

The speakers will be able to communicate verbal instructions or produce an audible tone. Target audiences can also be communicated with directly through the use of a single speaker to deliver emergency information relevant to a specific area.

A test for new outdoor emergency warning system at Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach is scheduled for Thursday at noon..
A test for new outdoor emergency warning system at Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach is scheduled for Thursday at noon.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Matt Lawson, the chairman of Laguna Beach’s Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Committee, said the new warning system can be an asset in an area that has gaps in reception because of its topography.

Lawson mentioned the system can help “to ensure that our residents and visitors and employees who work here have the best information possible in an emergency incident, even if the wireless devices are not fully functional, which is very common in emergency incidents.”

Two helicopters trained Tuesday for using Laguna Beach’s new helicopter refilling tank, which was purchased as part of the city’s wildfire mitigation plans.

Speakers have been installed in a number of strategic locations, including in neighborhoods and near schools. Brendan Manning, emergency operations coordinator for the city, added that some speakers are located along the beaches and near the trails.

“The safety of our residents and visitors in an emergency is our top priority,” interim Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert said in the release.

“This new state-of-the-art emergency warning system provides us with yet another tool to reach more people in our community in an emergency by enabling us to quickly send safety instructions over the loudspeakers if a wildfire or other hazard is approaching.”

Laguna Beach adds the emergency warning system ahead of a new fire season. The Aliso fire was a nearby wildfire event for the Top of the World neighborhood in 2018.

“This outdoor emergency warning system will save lives in the event of a major disaster," Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said.
“This outdoor emergency warning system will save lives in the event of a major disaster,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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