Arlington Tests Outdoor Warning System

by ARLnow.com August 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm 3,198 13 Comments

Arlington tested its outdoor warning system this morning (Thursday).

The county conducts an audible test of the warning system once or twice per year, according to Arlington Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director Jack Brown. Residents in some of Arlington’s more urban areas would have heard a beep or series of beeps during the test, he said.

Arlington’s outdoor warning system was first installed in 2007, using $400,000 in funding from the Department of Homeland Security. The system includes six warning speakers: two in Rosslyn, one in Clarendon, one in Courthouse, and two in Pentagon City. The speakers are controlled by a line-of-sight radio signal.

According to Brown, he last time the speakers were used in an actual emergency was on July 4, 2007, when a severe storm was approaching the area while thousands were heading to sites like the Iwo Jima memorial for the Fourth of July fireworks display.

In addition to beeps or a siren, the speakers can broadcast a pre-recorded voice message. It’s the same type of system that’s used on military bases like Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Brown said. While Fort Myer’s speakers play Taps at night and perform other non-emergency functions, however, the county’s system is only meant to be activated for true emergencies, like severe weather events, terrorist attacks, or other incidents.

Brown acknowledged that the system is only in earshot of those who are in some of the county’s more densely-populated areas, but said that it’s only one piece in a multi-platform emergency alert system that includes the county’s 1700 AM radio station, Arlington Alert emails, social media channels, a Reverse 911 system, and local media outreach.

  • Rick

    I hope they’re using wifi grade line of sight radio and not just winging it…

    • Me

      I would consider the use of wifi (low power, subject to interference) for a public safety warning system to be winging it. I would expect this is an FCC licensed VHF or UHF service.

  • Troubled

    Is anyone else troubled by the fact that it cost $400,000 to install SIX speakers?

    • nom de guerre

      You must be new to Arlington-only the best Bose speakers will do for this project.

    • but really, u should hear the bass outta these things. total pantie dropping subs.

      • sunflower

        i’m sure you know your woofers

  • South Awwlington

    I wanna hear it!

    • Just Me

      Me too. Why do they test it when we are at work? One test should be on the weekend. Why is this in just a few areas?

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Did anyone else find the 1700 AM completely useless in the Derecho? We didn’t get anything – when they could have been reporting on the extent of the outages, the 911 system, expected power etc – since the cell system was useless and no TV with no power – we were starved for info

  • Huh ??

    Talk about an idea whose time hasn’t come…..where are they going to tell you to go.

  • Buckingham Bandit

    Why not get a van like the Norks do?


  • ArLater

    Hah, sucks for Columbia Pike.

    Also, anyone else have their doubts with this system after the failed 911 response system? Maybe thats what they should be testing…

  • Jim Moron

    The outdoor sound system went off in the summer of 2008 when a t-storm was approaching, as well. It was audible in the Courthouse area, although the storm skirted us.


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