New Employee Alarm System Ready for Testing
The Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas is installing a state-of-the-art
employee alarm system to significantly improve their ability to warn employ-
ees and the surrounding communities of imminent danger from weather or
hazardous materials emergencies on site or in the vicinity. The system will
undergo testing at 9 a.m. Friday, June 30, 1995. The test will last for one
hour, ending at 10 a.m.
"An important part of preparing employees for hazards they may encounter in
the workplace or living on the Texas coast is educating them about warnings and
what they mean," said Keith McQuary, the JSC emergency preparedness
manager. "Each employee should know immediately whether to run away or
shelter in place when they hear the siren or fire bells sounding, which is what
we're trying to explain in the current program."
The alarm system uses solar panels to charge internal batteries and wireless radio
frequency signals to transmit control and audio signals. The speaker enclosures
mounted atop each of the seven poles will broadcast specific siren tones to get
employees' attention followed by appropriate verbal messages about the nature of
Siren poles are located throughout the center. Alarms may be found at the south
end of Bldg. 2 on Avenue D, on 5th Street west of Bldg. 38, at the southeast
corner of Bldg. 227, at the southwest corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street, at the
north end of 2nd Street across from the Gilruth Center, at the northwest corner of
Bldg. 356 and on the north side of Avenue B about one kilometer west of the
In a serious incident where the siren might not be needed initially, the JSC Incident
Commander at the emergency scene may direct siren activation if needed or ask
that an announcement be broadcast.
"Ideally, employees will never hear the siren except during periodic system tests
to verify the system is functioning properly," McQuary said. "The center is in such
close proximity to community residential areas, we need to tell them in advance
when we're going to test the alarm; likewise, we need to tell our employees."
The surrounding community will be notified of testing and a verbal announcement
will precede use of the siren during tests. A schedule for regular system tests,
based on final system acceptance, will be developed and available to employ-
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