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Today, on the 113th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed major sections of San Francisco and the Peninsula, a demonstration of an early warning system was held at Menlo Park Fire Protection District Station 2 in East Palo Alto. A quiet demonstration it was not, hence the people plugging their ears.

When a moderate earthquake with a Modified Mercalli intensity scale of 4 – 5 approaches Fire Station 2, an earthquake warning will sound, along with its intensity and a countdown to the approximate time it will strike the building. In addition, gas operated appliances will automatically be shut-off and the Fire Station alerting lights will be turned on. When a stronger earthquake with a Modified Mercalli intensity scale of 6 or greater occurs, the apparatus bay doors will be opened so they cannot potentially malfunction or jam shut.

The SkyAlert speaker

In October of 2018, the Fire District became a pilot program partner with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). That partnership allows them to utilize the new ShakeAlert network of hundreds of ground sensors as part of the Bay Area’s Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system. The Fire District is the first fire agency in Northern California to use this system and one of a handful of public agencies statewide to integrate this potential lifesaving technology into its day to day operations.

Fire Station notification experts, Telecommunications Engineering Associates, Inc. (TEA) and earthquake early warning experts from SkyAlert helped design the actual solution triggers, protocols and process that then connects to the USGS ShakeAlert resilience platform and network. Each Fire Station system cost $15,500 to install and includes one year’s maintenance and $19,000 for a combined annual maintenance thereafter, all paid by the Fire District.

The Fire District currently has two of these systems installed at each of its newest Fire Stations located in East Palo Alto (Station 2) and in downtown Menlo Park (Station 6) with a third planned at a new Station on the drawing board located in an unincorporated area of San Mateo County in Sharon Heights (Station 4).

In addition to the ShakeAlert system, the Fire District will demonstrate its new area wide Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) Community Notification System and show how both systems could eventually be tied together to provide area wide audible alerts for earthquake, flood, fire and other emergencies.

The City of East Palo Alto is 2.4 square miles in size and is located on vulnerable alluvial soils along the San Francisco Bay, primarily below Highway 101 and on approach to the highly traveled Dumbarton Bridge. Working with its city partners, the Fire District believes a built out LRAD System could cover the entire area within 12 to 24 months.

“We’ve been working with our partners for many years to implement both of these incredible technologies,” said Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. “ShakeAlert will notify and protect our Station firefighters, but we also believe coupled with the LRAD public address system, it can help to bridge the ‘notification gap’ as another important public safety tool and option for community early warning messaging for earthquakes as well as for fire and flooding information and evacuation signaling.”

Photos by Robb Most (c) 2019

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Story of family left behind during the Civil War will be told on April 22

Over 150 years ago, Corporal David Brainard Griffin left his family to join the Union army. Griffin’s great-great grandson, author and historian Nick K. Adams, will share lessons learned from 100 letters home at the Menlo Park Library (800 Alma St.) on Monday, April 22, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Adams is a retired elementary […]

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Learn to paint a seascape on April 20

Art facilitator Christie Inocencio will help you draw out your creativity to paint a seascape at the Belle Haven branch (413 Ivy Dr.)  of the Menlo Park Library on Saturday, April 20 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. Canvas, palette, and paints are all provided. This event is free, thanks to funding from the Friends of […]

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USGS evening lecture on April 18 looks at California’s changing ecosystems as observed from space

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Household Hazardous Waste Collection event on April 13

The Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program helps residents properly dispose and/or recycle their residential hazardous waste. Household hazardous waste (HHW) is waste from your home that is toxic, corrosive, flammable or reactive based on its chemical properties. Products such as paint thinner, toilet bowl cleaner, and rat bait exhibit these hazardous characteristics. It is illegal […]

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Menlo Park Sidewalk Spring Art Stroll comes to Santa Cruz Avenue

The Menlo Park Sidewalk Spring Art Stroll, celebrating its 37th year, welcomes visitors to browse among the handcrafted works of more than 60 artists whose displays include fine jewelry, photography, decorative and functional ceramics, abstract and representational paintings, gorgeous wearables and much more. This annual free event, sponsored by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, […]

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Alkalign in Menlo Park celebrates 10th anniversary on April 13, offers free fitness class to celebrate

The markets crashed and spending tightened, but the perilous circumstances didn’t dissuade Erin Paruszewski from diving into a new business venture headfirst. After years as an investment banker and Six Sigma consultant, Erin left corporate America. She and her husband Tony drew down every last penny of their home equity line one week before the […]

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Meet and read with a cop on April 13

On Saturday, April 13, the Menlo Park Library invites families to come to the lawn under the oak trees and take part in these cool activities. – Listen to stories read by cops – Make a police car craft – Meet a police dog and handler – Explore a police car and motorcycle up close […]

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Menlo Park observes annual work zone awareness week April 8-12

National Work Zone Awareness Week, an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through work zones on and next to public streets, is April 8-12, 2019.s  The Federal Highway Administration, the American Traffic Safety Services Association and state and local agencies have partnered to sponsor National Work Zone […]

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Learn about films Walt Disney produced during World War II on April 8

Educator Shawn Carrera from the Walt Disney Family Museum will talk about the films Walt Disney produced for the government during World War II on Monday, April 8, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm at the Menlo Park Library. Emphasis will be placed on Disney shorts and films made for the war effort, the occupation of […]

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Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan efforts continue; next meeting planned for April 4

The City of Menlo Park is updating its Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan. The Master Plan includes an extensive public process to evaluate community needs and assess the conditions of the city’s parks and recreation facilities. The plan serves as a road map to guide future decisions about our local parks, open space and […]

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