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Cold War warning sirens are ringing all over France. This is the reason

Paris (CNN) — Typical Wednesday lunchtime in Paris, crowded streets, table-filled terraces, air raids The alarm fills the air.

The moan broke across the city for nearly two minutes, reaching the crescendo above the traffic at noon before dying.

It's a strange event. But what's even stranger is that no one seems to be aware, except for a few confused tourists.

In France, on the first Wednesday of every month, sirens (originally supposed to be warnings of Cold War bombing) test warnings in about 2,000 towns and villages around the world. Rip as. Country.

Today they stand as warnings of natural or industrial disasters, but as the war intensifies in eastern Europe, French authorities give French people 1 minute 41 seconds. It's just a drill that made a statement reminiscent of the mourning of the aerial division.

"If there was a war, you would have seen it in the news or something," said Ali Karari, a tourist from London, listening to sirens outside this month. Notre Dame in Paris.

"I thought it might be important, but if so, people don't seem to care," he told CNN.

Surprise is not limited to visitors.

"It is not uncommon for the province to receive calls from individuals, locals, or tourists who are worried about sirens," said defense and private inter-sectoral services. Said Matthieu Pianezze, who is responsible for. Conservation in Eveline, a region west of Paris.

"Obviously, they were immediately relieved by our team on the first Wednesday with the right tools to address their concerns."

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Sirens were installed across France after World War II to warn against Cold War bombings.

Sirens have been installed throughout Post-WWII France warns against Cold War bombings.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The sirens I heard today can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been the government's responsibility to inform of incidents that could physically threaten the population.

One of the most common bells used at the time was known as th e "tocsin" was found in the church and warned people of danger Sounded by the priest for.

In 1914, many towns rang bells for over an hour to warn as many people as possible about the outbreak of World War I.

After World War II, sirens were set up to take over and warn of potential aerial threats. Their development was accelerated during the Cold War and can now be heard throughout France.

In Maison Lafit, a town of about 23,000 people living in the western suburbs of Paris, the main siren is on the roof of the city hall. Only police officers have access to the siren, and city hall employees get a seat in the front row of the roar.

"It works." The sirens ring, says Deputy Mayor Gino Necki.

It's relatively easy to work with them. “Country agents can activate it via an app that is very easy to access,” says Pianezze. "This monthly test will tell you which of the 47 sirens are'ill'and need to see a doctor. It needs to be repaired as soon as possible in case of a real emergency.


paris sirens-4

Maison Lafit City Hall technician Stephen Moret opens a cabinet containing alarm electronics.


Many have questioned the effectiveness of warning systems decades ago. “France chose to keep the siren because of its particular heritage, the tradition behind it,” says Johnny Davinet, a professor of geography at Avignon University.

As an expert on the population warning system, he ordered the current system by former President Charles de Gaulle, "despite various changes within the Ministry of Interior. The warning to sirens as a means of alert has always been maintained to this day. "

Not everyone agrees on their usefulness. The sound of sirens is well known to Jacqueline Bon (92), who was a teenager during World War II. But listening to them regularly "doesn't affect me at all," she says, even though the sound is almost the same as it was a century ago.

"It has a big impact on me during the war because they rang every time there was a bombardment so that we could go underground for protection. "Now she feels they have lost their meaning." I don't really understand the point anymore, "she says.

However, given today's geopolitical events, Davinet may have renewed the public's view of sirens in the war on European territory.

"The war in Ukraine has probably shown that sirens aren't as useful as people thought," he says. .. "One thing is clear: people want to be informed and warned when something happens."

After Covid-19, 2023 "The council wants to double its risk and crisis management," he said in a 2024 game at major events such as the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics of the year. Evelyn Civil Protection Director Pianese said.

Still, there are growing calls for system changes, which are said to be outdated.

In 2019, a chemical factory fires A cloud of black smoke wrapped around the town one night in Rouen, northwestern France. We chose to use sirens as a secondary alert, triggering only two hours after the start of the fire and alerting people when they wake up in the morning.

Meanwhile, the authorities chose to communicate through Twitter and the news media.

In a post-fire speech to the government, Normandy Prime Minister Pierre Andreduran believes the system has a lot of room for improvement, saying, "We can't control it. The 21st century is at stake with the tools of the 20th century. "


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Hardware that controls the alert system.


Durand's wishes may come true in June this year as sirens are paired with a new modernized system. France is testing "Amber Alert" style cells Phone messages.

If it works, it should be rolled out nationwide by summer. Similar systems have already been deployed throughout Europe and the United States, but according to Matthieu Pianezze, this technology is revolutionary because it combines cell broadcasting with location-based SMS technology.

This means that everyone in a particular region will receive alerts from the authorities, regardless of mobile network or phone.

"For example, you may be a tourist who has just visited the Eveline area," Pianezze said.

"Imagine the Palace of Versailles with a lot of tourists. They all get warnings, probably in different languages."

It does not mean the end of the old school siren. They will stay here and play a more complementary role in an emergency.

"You can still reach a fairly large area," Pianezze adds. "I've seen the power of sirens, but I think it's very important to be able to maintain them. It's already established. It's clear that it's not 100%, but it's still historically related to the French crisis and war. I think we have an attachment to it because it has been proven to be efficient. "

Tradition has a special place in France, Sirens are no exception.

So the next time you visit France and get caught up in the sound of an air raid, keep calm and probably just the beginning of the month. ..