Federal building testing alarms nightly

There’s no reason to be alarmed, even if the building is.

This week, the managers of Juneau’s federal building have begun a three-week test of the building’s emergency alarms, causing a ruckus that has upset residents of the neighborhood surrounding the building and led to calls to the Juneau Police Department and Capital City Fire/Rescue.

“The flats families neighborhood association supports the local federal workers … but to have loud noises going on throughout the night that make it difficult for people to sleep is just not acceptable,” said Meilani Schijvens, who lives near the building and has documented the alarm tests on Facebook.

Sally Mayberry, a spokeswoman with the General Services Administration — which oversees federal buildings across the country — said the GSA is aware of the complaints and has already begun changing its tests.

“They are trying to minimize the alarm by shortening the bursts of it between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.,” she said. “They’ve also shut down the exterior bells.”

Still, the alarm — which sounds an air-raid-like siren and flashes bright lights — is particularly noticeable in Juneau’s dark winter nights. One Empire journalist recorded the alarm for several minutes at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday from the entrance of Foodland IGA two blocks away.

“GSA’s trying to minimize as much as they can the impact,” Mayberry said.

Building employees must test each of the “700-800 devices” within the building, which is why the alarm bells will be sounding each night for three weeks.

“They have to do it when the facility is empty,” Mayberry said, which is why the tests are done at night.

Testing began this week but will not take place next week due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

“They’ll resume testing Nov. 30,” Mayberry said, and testing should be complete no later than Dec. 11.

Mayberry said the testing is a safety issue, and GSA wants to be good neighbors, even if the alarm is annoying right now.

“We’re not trying to cause a ruckus,” she said.

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