Emergency sirens

An artist's rendering of what an emergency siren pole would look like for Cedar Street, near Rancho De Calistoga.

The City of Calistoga is considering the installation of five early warning emergency sirens to alert the community and first responders in the case of wildfire activity.

The system consists of five 60-foot towers, placed around the city, with built-in detection sensors, monitoring stations and an alarm system.

The wireless cameras rotate atop the towers to scan the landscape, and the alarm system has an 80-decibel output (NASCAR averages about 100 decibels).

The wireless towers are not automatically triggered when they sense potentially hazardous conditions. The towers send data back to a central monitoring location where it is then analyzed. The alarm is only activated by the city according to best practices protocol.

The project is currently in the permitting process and should come before the city council at a regular meeting in August, said Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning. The goal is to have them in place by September, before the start of wildfire season.

The technology will be paid for and installed by the international company Illumination Technologies, with a new head office on Lincoln Avenue in Calistoga. The company has been operating such systems for more than 18 years with 4,800 telecom structures and sites. The company is a sister organization of the largest private telecom infrastructure provider in Latin America, with partnerships with another 5,000 municipalities world-wide, according to its website.   

The towers serve a dual purpose, as the company will also rent the towers to wireless phone carriers — with up to 4g capability -- allowing Illuminations to recoup some of the project’s $600,000 cost, said Canning, who is also the company’s CEO of IT.

Illuminations has also approached all other municipalities within the county with the idea for the system, Canning said.

While other such systems are capable of detecting early floods and earthquakes, in this case, the towers will function only for wildfire detection.

In Calistoga, proposed sites for the towers are on Cedar Street near Rancho De Calistoga, on Mora Avenue, Anna Street, Rosedale Road, and Petrified Forest Road, for maximum coverage of the town. The towers are solar powered with battery back-up, and are designed to be camouflaged and blend in with residential and business surroundings.

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.