Santa Clara County's Civil Defense System: Don't Be Alarmed

Have you ever seen one of these peculiar-looking towers in Santa Clara County? Some of you might know what these are, but others might have no idea what they're looking at. If you'd like to find out more - read on!

These ancient towers are actually air raid sirens. Back during the Cold War era, the Civil Defense Department installed a total of 130 sirens throughout the County, with 55 of them being located in San Jose. The sirens were installed with the intention of alerting people of oncoming danger, which is quite an alarming thought when you think about it; people actually had to worry about being raided back during that era! Fortunately, San Jose had never been subject to an attack so the sirens were never really needed, but it's better to be safe than sorry! In fact, the only time people heard the sirens go off was when they were activated for testing purposes. If you’re curious about what these sound like, check out this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-usyCpI99s

The siren in the video is known as a Federal Model 5 Air Raid Siren, which is a commonly found siren in Santa Clara County. Check out the pictures below for a closer look at it and some of the other common siren models found throughout Santa Clara County:

Federal Model 5 Air Raid Siren - Full View

Federal Model 5 Air Raid SIren - Full View

Federal Model 5 Air Raid Siren - Head Shot
Federal Model 5 Air Raid SIren - Head Shot

SD-10 Air Raid Siren - Full View

SD-10 Air Raid Siren - Full View

SD-10 Air Raid Siren - Head Shot

SD-10 Air Raid Siren - Head Shot

Scream Master Air Raid Siren - Full View

Scream Master Air Raid Siren - Full View

Scream Master Air Raid Siren - Head Shot

Scream Master Air Raid Siren - Head Shot

Some of the more uncommon models which can still be found in the county include the Modulator and the Whelen.

Now you’ll be able to recognize an air raid siren when you see one. Maybe there’s even an air raid siren near your home that you’ve never noticed! Whatever the case may be, next time you come across one of these Cold War relics, let it remind you of how lucky we are to not be living in times of civil unrest anymore.

On a side note, if there actually is an air raid siren near your home that you've never noticed before, please let me know because I’m attempting to locate and map every siren in Santa Clara County. Using the California Room’s resources and the internet, I’ve been able to find a majority of the sirens in the County, but I haven't been able to pinpoint them all. You can take a look at my progress here:

Siren MAp

(VIsit this link if you'd like to interact with the map: https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=ebf934efa38e4598a01068f977117300)

If you take a look at my map, you’ll notice that I've used color-coordinated points and that each color represents a specific siren model. However, if you pay particular attention to the blue dots you'll see they represent the locations of sirens that I am unsure of. If you think you can help me verify any of these locations, or if you know of any locations that I've missed, please let me know in the comments below, or email me at: sarbpreet.buttar@sanjoseca.gov

For more information about sirens you can visit these pages:

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