From time to time, visitors staying in coastal communities hear a siren sound (especially during hours of darkness) and become concerned that it’s alerting them to a tsunami warning.
Most commonly, the sound they’ve heard is the siren that summons members of the local volunteer fire brigade. These sirens generally have a rise/fall ‘air raid’ type tone.
More recently, new building alarms required to be installed have a siren tone which is very similar to Northland tsunami sirens and the difference can be difficult to detect. However, after four cycles of the sound, there is a voice message stating that it is a fire alarm.
The audio clips below are provided to help distinguish between the different siren types.
Example - volunteer fire brigade siren (although there are some exceptions):
Northland tsunami siren:
New generation fire alarms (siren tone plus voice):
If a tsunami warning is in effect, it will be posted on the National Emergency Management Agency website: www.civildefence.govt.nz and in the yellow box on the top right hand side of our website homepage.
We also support the use of smartphone alerting platforms – you can find more info on these at: www.nrc.govt.nz/cdalert