Belmont residents who hear a hi-low siren might wonder if they’ve suddenly been transported to a European city. But what they should really be doing is evacuating.
Belmont police recently announced that its police vehicles are now equipped with a new siren that will specifically be used to alert residents to evacuate.
“When you hear Hi-Low, it’s time to go,” Belmont police Officer Chen said in a Youtube video.
Until recently, state law restricted the use of hi-lo sirens. But with fast-moving wildfires becoming a common occurrence in the state, the need for them has grown. In August, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation proposed by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa that authorizes municipalities to use them in emergency vehicles.
A pilot program in Napa County last year showed the European-style sirens were effective in getting people to flee encroaching wildfires, according to Dodd. The distinct difference in sound helps to capture the public’s attention. Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties used the alerts during the recent LNU Lightning Complex fires in the North Bay.
“Our recent experience with the hi-lo siren showed it greatly assists in getting people out and making communities safer,” Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said in a statement.
Added Sen. Dodd, “Thanks to fellow lawmakers for seeing the value of the hi-lo siren, which is proven to be effective in getting people out of harm’s way when minutes count. Unfortunately, we are going to see more fires, so this will be essential for keeping people safe.”