Jul 29, 2014
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New Detection System Will Warn Residents of Zeus' Fury

Ridgewood activated its long-discussed lightning detection system Wednesday at Hawes and Veterans Field.

New Detection System Will Warn Residents of Zeus' Fury

If lightning strikes, Ridgewood will know. The village on Wednesday activated its new lightning detection system at and following a presentation by emergency management personnel.

According to EMS Chief Brian Pullman, the system based off the National Lightning Detection System receives a signal through the internet, powering the box and sending an e-mail to those on a list once lightning hits 20 miles outside Ridgewood.

When lightning reaches the 10-mile line – the final safe distance as deemed by the NCAA – lights affixed to the sport field facilities will shine and an alarm will sound for 14 seconds. 

"It doesn't afford you a lot of time, it's not enough time to break down tents," said Pullman. "It's enough time to grab your loved ones and get to a building or a car."

Addressing concerns the sound could resemble the air-raid sirens of yester-year, Pullman said: "It's loud enough that it carries but it's not piercing where you cover your ears and run for cover."

All sports coaches are expected to be on the list, and others may be included as well, Mayor Keith Killion said.

"They also send a notification once the all-clear is given, which is a minimum 30 minutes from the last lightning strike in the red zone [10-mile mark]," Pullman remarked.

A three-second sound will alert participants as to when the fields can be used again.

The village has been in talks to get a detection system for about five years, finally funding it in 2010 and 2011 jointly with the school board, which covers software costs.

The initial project cost tallies just under $10,000 with a recurring $4,200 in annual software fees. Veterans and Hawes have already seen installation.

Maple Field, , and should all be completed by summer, Pullman said. Any additional set of receivers – typically mounted on score boards – on a field will cost $800, he added.

Including Habernickel and the other fields into the project could be done by the close of 2012, Village Manager Ken Gabbert said.

Similar systems in Paramus and other neighboring communities have been succesful, Pullman, also a Ridgewood police sergeant, noted in his presentation to the council.

The system has come in handy already. According to Mayor Killion, the system registered 23 strikes within 20 miles and two within 10 miles of the village as storms moved in on Sunday.

Pullman said signs will be mounted at the fields providing directions to participants as to what to do when lightning strikes.

The system will be active from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., in conjunction with the Fields Use Policy.

"The system can all be modified so it's very important to tell people it's not going to be 24/7," Killion said.

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