~PEMA | Stay Informed | Emergency Sirens
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Emergency Sirens


Outdoor warning sirens, reminiscent of the Cold War and the days of Civil Defense, have been once again identified as a valuable warning tool. However, the modern siren systems not only send an audible tone to get the attention of residents, visitors and business owners, verbal messages are transmitted over loud speakers after the alert tone is sounded.

Although not in every part of the city, Providence has two siren systems. The campus siren system installed at Brown University was installed in the spring of 2008 and the second system at the Port of Providence was installed in the spring of 2009. Both systems consist of strategically placed sirens that will be used to warn Brown, the Port, Johnson & Wales and surrounding community in the event of a life threatening emergency.

If an emergency is identified, the Brown University Public Safety Department activates the campus sirens and the Providence Fire Department activates the Port sirens. The activation of both systems consists of an alert tone and a voice message regarding the nature of the emergency. Additional warning methods, such as the national Emergency Alert System will more than likely be utilized as well.

Depending on the emergency situation, persons hearing the siren sound should immediately stop what they are doing and listen for the verbal instructions following the tone. Reasons as to why the siren system would be activated include a chemical spill, impending natural disaster, or a terror related incident. Instructions might include to shelter-in-place immediately or evacuate the area. Upon activation of the sirens, the media will be alerted and they will provide important instructions. Tune to local TV and radio once you have reached safety for additional information and instructions from emergency officials.

Understand that they're may be delays in additional information. Be patient and always listen for the voice instructions following the siren tone. Continue to listen to TV and radio broadcasts until additional information is transmitted. Have your telephone near you and use the phone only for emergencies.

Siren FAQs

Learn more about the 'Port of Providence Emergency Siren Warning System' (PPESWS)

  • What do the sirens sound like?
    Listen to an audio clip for a simulation of the siren sound.
  • When are the sirens tested?
    Sirens will be tested at least annually to ensure operational readiness. Test schedules will be announced in advance and posted on the City of Providence , Providence Emergency Management, Brown University and the Johnson & Wales University web sites.
  • What should I do during a system test?
    You should continue your regular activities during a test. You do not need to take any special actions during a test.
  • What should I do if I hear the sirens?
    • The system will be used to alert people to go indoors to shelter-in-place or to evacuate.
    • Tune to local TV and radio stations for additional information.
    • Anticipate a telephone call from Reverse 911. Use your phone for an emergency only.
    • To learn more about sheltering-in-place and evacuations.
  • What type of emergencies do the sirens indicate?
    Examples of emergencies where the sirens would likely be activated include:
  • Where can I hear the sirens?
    Although the sirens will be loudest within the immediate areas of the Brown University campus, the Port of Providence and the Johnson & Wales University, close proximity neighbors will be able to hear the warning system. Therefore, neighbors of both areas should understand the siren system.
  • Where can I get additional information?
    For additional information on the Brown University Siren, e-mail: ESWS@brown.edu or by telephone at 863-3353. For additional information on the Port of Providence and Johnson & Wales University Siren, contact the Director, PEMA by e-mail: PEMA@providenceri.com or by telephone at 680-8000.
  • All sirens have been coordinated with the City's Local Emergency Planning Committee-2 (LEPC-2).




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