Avon to evaluate locations for additional emergency sirens in northern communities
The sirens would create a uniform, audible notification system for Wildridge, Wildwood and Mountain Star
Across the state, wildfire and climate experts are warning that this could be the worst wildfire season in Colorado’s history. Already this year, several wildland and grass fires have broken out across the state.
As part of its mitigation efforts, the town of Avon is considering the installation of several emergency sirens in the town’s northern hillside communities. The town is hosting a public hearing on the potential siren locations at its Tuesday, May 24 Town Council meeting.
“This is more elaborate than what was originally envisioned, but the Marshall Fire was pretty sobering in that type of an area when the conditions are right — when it’s that dry and that windy,” said Town Manager Eric Heil during a work session on the sirens at the March 22 Town Council meeting. “What was sobering about that was how little time there was to provide notice for people that had to evacuate.”
Last year, the town installed a siren at the top of the Wildridge subdivision. The location was selected as the siren was projected to reach the majority of the subdivision. The installation was criticized at the time as the project went forward without the input of the public and the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
However, after testing the siren last spring, it was determined that while mostly effective, certain locations in the neighborhood were not well reached by the siren. So, the town decided to move forward with a more comprehensive and uniform audible notification system that would further reach the Wildridge subdivision as well as Wildwood and Mountain Star.
These sirens are intended to compliment the town’s existing emergency notification tactics. These include reverse 911, EC Alert/Everbridge, IPAWS, radio, social media, temporary signage and door-to-door evacuation protocols.
Currently, in order to provide a more comprehensive audible alert system, the town is considering installing four additional sirens at the following locations:
- O’Neal Spur Park: Located near the pavilion structure at the park
- Saddle Ridge Apartments: Located on the west half of the parcel
- Avon Annex in Wildwood: Located near the southwest corner of the public works building on site
- Mountain Star: Located near the water tank at the top of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District property
The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission hosted a public hearing on April 19 regarding the sirens’ locations and gave Town Council a favorable recommendation to move forward.
Per the May 24 Town Council packet, each siren would be mounted on top of a 35-foot — 45-foot in Mountain Star — wood utility pole. The notification system would be battery powered to ensure that they could still be utilized should a wildfire event shut power off.
In order to blend these sirens into the neighborhoods — something that residents criticized the original siren for — town staff made three recommendations in response to the commission’s response. This includes grouping these poles to existing structures at each location, matching the poles to the nearby powerline poles and painting them earth tones to match the environment.
As part of the town’s wildfire mitigation efforts, these sirens would be tested once a month during peak wildfire season.
The packet contemplates that the project, including electric and installation costs, would cost the town $350,436.
Town Council will host a public hearing and make a final determination on this emergency notification system at its Tuesday, May 24 Town Council meeting. The hearing is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Community members can join the meeting in person at Avon Town Hall (100 Mikaela Way) or online via Zoom (Avon.org).
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.