SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Tuesday that would authorize municipalities to use European-style hi-lo sirens in emergency vehicles to aid in emergency evacuations.
Senate Bill 909 allows all public safety agencies to use hi-lo warnings for evacuation purposes.
Existing law restricts the use of the sirens, but a 2019 pilot program in Napa County showed the warning, popularized in England, works well to get residents to flee approaching wildfires, said state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, who authored the bill. The sirens were used recently during evacuations from the LNU Lightning Complex Fire by deputies in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.
“We have seen unprecedented wildfires spread rapidly throughout California,” said John Robertson, the Napa County Sheriff. “Utilizing the hi-lo siren statewide allows law enforcement to inform rural and urban communities of danger, in a timely and efficient manner.”