Old Emergency Alert System Restored

Back in the era before pagers, cell phones and precise dispatch locations through computer-aided dispatching; the Twain Harte Fire Department (THFD), now a division of Twain Harte Community Services District, notified volunteer firefighters that there was a call for service by sounding a large air horn atop the firehouse.  The horn would sound in a particular pattern based on the type of call and location in the community.  Many long time Twain Harte residents might remember this process along with small cards that helped identify understand the horn sequence.  Because this horn alert was such a critical notification system to THFD’s operations, it was tested daily at noon to ensure the equipment was functioning properly.

Since that time, newer call dispatching technology through 9-11 was developed and THFD became a combination fire department with both paid staff and volunteers.  With these changes, the alert horn stopped being used and the system fell into a state of disrepair.  Thanks to a generous donation from Mrs. Julie Cowell, in honor of her husband who retired from the City of Alameda Fire Department, the alert horn has been repaired and is functional. 

Although the alert horn is not needed in the same way it used to, it can still be helpful for those without cell phones or for alerting residents in the middle of the night.  This need was highlighted by the recent devastating fires in Northern California that took the lives of dozens of people.  In hopes of avoiding a similar situation, THFD intends to use the alert horn in the event of a community based emergency as a secondary form of notification to all residents. 

In the event of an incident requiring mass notification the alert horn will sound with three long blasts.  If you hear that sequence it means please check your television, AM/FM radios, cell phones and computers for additional information and instructions regarding the community emergency. 

To make sure residents receive timely information, it is imperative to enable emergency alerts on all cellular phones and have a battery operated AM/FM radio on hand to receive notification from the Emergency Alert System. 

Additionally, residents should sign up with Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services to participate in the citizen alert program that provides timely emergency notifications to County residents.  You can sign up for this program at no charge by clicking HERE, creating an account and entering the ways you would like to be contacted during an emergency. 

The alert horn will be tested the first Monday of every quarter at noon with one short blast.