Nearly a third of Latvia's emergency sirens have issues

28% of alarm sirens installed in Latvia have been found to be malfunctioning, which is more than in previous years. Users of the 112 Latvija mobile app should have received a notification about the alarm siren check, but not everyone did, Latvian Television reported on May 20.

On Monday, May 20, alarm sirens sounded across Latvia. In some places they were very audible, in others they were less audible or even not audible at all. Out of 155 sirens tested, 119 worked without any malfunctions or damage, the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) said.

A total of 164 sirens have been installed in Latvia, but nine sirens were not checked because they are being renovated, relocated or repaired.

This year, there are problems with more sirens than in other years - 28% of all sirens in Latvia have been found to have problems.

"119 sirens were working. The rest of the sirens either have technical problems or problems with access to the siren itself so that it can be manually triggered if it does not work. Last year 138 sirens worked without faults, this year 119 sirens. They are worn out, [..] 20 years old. The reason for our checks is to find out where the problems are and fix them," Uldis Kevers, Chief of the VUGD Civil Protection Department, told LTV.

For the first time, a notification was sent to the users of the 112 Latvija app when the sirens were activated to test the app in real-life conditions. Until now, notifications were sent only for dangerous weather conditions.

The VUGD is not satisfied with the performance of the "112 Latvia" app, as the developer did not ensure that all users of the app were notified simultaneously and immediately when the sirens were tested, which is one of the objectives of the app. The performance problems identified by the test have been passed on to the developer, who will be asked to rectify them as soon as possible.

"We have found that this message did not go out smoothly to all users. There were users who received the message after an hour, some after a few minutes. There were also some who did not receive it," said Ķevers.

The purpose of the sirens is to warn people in the event of a natural or technogenic disaster or threat of one. In parallel, information about the danger is broadcast on radio and TV.

The Early Warning System, also known as the cell broadcast alert system, was due to start operating this year. This is a technology that warns of threats and informs of recommended actions by sending a notification to phones. Public procurement is currently underway, and it is not certain that it will actually be implemented this year.

If there was a real crisis or threat this morning, according to the VUGD, the public would be reached through most of the sirens that are working, emergency vehicles would be driving and announcing over loudspeakers, and operational information would be heard and seen on Latvian Television and Latvian Radio.

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