Iwakuni city to share base's alert information
October 31, 2003
Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan, will drill with local officials Tuesday to ensure the base’s Mass Notification/Personnel Alerting System and a system extension recently installed at the Iwakuni City Hall work in tandem.
Nothing but success is expected from the 8:05 a.m. test of the system that will allow Japanese officials outside the gates to receive some of the same emergency alerts as the base, said a base spokesman.
The air station worked through September installing the extension of the base’s emergency loudspeaker and siren alert system.
The base system announces alerts to station residents for everything from biological or chemical attacks to natural disasters, said Capt. Stewart Upton, base spokesman.
The city’s arm of the system is installed in Iwakuni City Hall’s Base Affairs and Security Guard offices.
The segment in the city hall looks and functions much like a bullhorn, except it’s mounted rather than portable, Upton said.
“In case of an emergency, the alerts are broadcast in English and Japanese, as are specific instructions about how to proceed,” he said.
During an emergency, Upton said, the base and city likely would work together.
The base paid $2,600 for installation and equipment costs.
In addition, Upton said, base personnel spent about 80 man-hours with liaison efforts, survey, planning and installation.
The idea for a shared emergency alert system was first proposed during a meeting between Col. David Darrah, the base commander, and Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara. Upton said base officials believe the arrangement to be “the first of its kind … between a U.S. military installation and its host nation.”
Part of the reasoning for installing the system in city hall is simple courtesy. At the very least, if residents wonder what’s happening once the sirens sound, they now can learn why, Upton said.
“In the past,” Upton said, “Iwakuni City Hall didn’t have a way to confirm [the cause] when sirens were heard at the air station.”
Nobuyuki Takashima, Iwakuni City’s base affairs section director, said residents have become sensitive to siren noise since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The residents living around the base were concerned,” Takashima said. And in some instances, he added, with the city hall windows closed, officials often could not hear the sirens.
He said residents would call the city to ask why there were sirens, but the city didn’t know. Now, “we can answer why the drill is being conducted.”
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.