Warning sirens planned for 16 Estonian cities

New signs indicating a public shelter were installed in Tallinn on June 13, 2022. The first were hung on Freedom Square above an underground carpark.
New signs indicating a public shelter were installed in Tallinn on June 13, 2022. The first were hung on Freedom Square above an underground carpark. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Warning sirens will be installed in 16 cities across Estonia as part of a new €4.5 million emergency notification system, the Rescue Board announced on Thursday.

An analysis carried out by the agency suggests the alarms should be placed in Tallinn/Muuga, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Võru, Paldiski, Sillamäe, Tapa, Jõhvi, Maardu, Rakvere, Keila, Viljandi, Valga, Kuressaare and Haapsalu.

There will be between 70 and 80 sirens across the country and they will most likely be fixed to government buildings, state-owned companies or communication masts.

The alarm system will be used to inform the population about dangerous situations, including military threats, major accidents or emergency situations. Messages will also be sent to mobile phones situated in the danger area.

It is planned to install the first devices at the end of the year and have the whole system up and running by July 2023.

The Rescue Board said the aim of the network is to reach as many residents as possible during an emergency.

In terms of civilian defense, this is the largest investment Estonia has made in the last 30 years, the agency said in a statement.

The Rescue Board's project manager for the siren network Tambet Vodi said the agency has looked at neighboring countries' best practices when designing the system.

"Above all, the goal is to create a system that is reliable and free from false alarms, which constantly tests its operational status," he said. "For example, in the Netherlands, the nationwide siren system is tested on the first Monday of every month at 12 noon."

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the government decided to ramp up civil defense. Emergency shelters have been mapped and marked in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu and it was agreed a siren system should be built across the country. The task has been given to the Rescue Board.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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