Emergency services chief on Maui resigns. He faced criticism for not activating sirens during fire

by Chloe Baker
Emergency services

The head of emergency services on Maui has resigned amidst criticism for not activating outdoor alert sirens during a destructive fire. Herman Andaya, the Administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, had defended his decision not to deploy the sirens, citing concerns that their activation might lead people towards the fire. He resigned the day after making this statement. The controversy surrounding the decision, coupled with water shortages and blocked escape routes, has drawn heavy criticism following the deadliest wildfire in the US in over a century.

With the death toll at 111, the search for missing individuals expanded beyond Lahaina to other destroyed communities. A significant portion of the Lahaina area had been searched, and the fire was reported to be 90% contained as of Thursday night.

Andaya’s resignation was immediately accepted by Mayor Richard Bissen, who cited health reasons as the cause. The lack of sirens has been highlighted as one of several communication issues that contributed to the chaos during the wildfire crisis.

Hawaii boasts one of the world’s largest systems of outdoor alert sirens, established after a devastating 1946 tsunami. These sirens can also be used for fire alerts. Andaya, who held the position since 2017, had defended his qualifications for the job, stating his experience in various emergency management roles.

An impartial review of the government’s response, intended to facilitate corrective action and enhance future emergency preparedness, will be conducted by an external organization, according to Hawaii’s Attorney General Anne Lopez.

The cause of the wildfires is currently under investigation. Hawaii faces increasing disaster risks, with wildfires being a significant concern, as indicated by FEMA records.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Emergency services

Why did the emergency services chief on Maui resign?

The emergency services chief on Maui resigned due to criticism over not activating outdoor alert sirens during a destructive fire.

What was the controversy surrounding the sirens?

The chief’s decision not to deploy the sirens during the fire led to criticism, as people believed the alerts could have helped evacuation efforts.

How serious was the wildfire’s impact?

The wildfire resulted in the deadliest wildfire in the US in over a century, causing significant destruction and loss of life.

What was the response to the emergency chief’s resignation?

Mayor Richard Bissen accepted the resignation, citing unspecified health reasons. Plans were made to quickly fill the vacant position.

Was there any investigation into the response to the wildfire?

Yes, an outside organization was designated to conduct an impartial review of the government’s response to identify any shortcomings and improve future emergency preparedness.

What role did communication issues play in the crisis?

Communication issues, including the lack of sirens, contributed to the chaos and challenges faced during the wildfire crisis.

How has Hawaii prepared for such emergencies?

Hawaii has an extensive system of outdoor alert sirens, initially established after a devastating 1946 tsunami. These sirens can be used to alert for various emergencies, including fires.

Is the cause of the wildfires known?

The cause of the wildfires is currently under investigation.

What are the concerns about future disaster risks in Hawaii?

Hawaii faces increasing risks from disasters, particularly wildfires, as indicated by records from FEMA.

How are affected residents being accommodated?

Displaced residents are being housed in hotels with various services provided. Efforts are being made to ease the crowded group shelters and offer better accommodations.

How has the local community responded to the crisis?

The local community has expressed concerns about the lack of evacuation routes and the potential impact of the rebuilt town’s orientation towards wealthy visitors.

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islandgirl67 August 19, 2023 - 5:52 am

all this chaos coz the chief didn’t push the button for the sirens. ppl lost homes n’ lives. glad they’re reviewin’ stuff, but it’s a mess.

naturelover45 August 19, 2023 - 6:25 am

hawaii’s dealin’ w/ some serious stuff. fires, sirens not goin’ off, and now this chief resignin’. hope they figure out how to keep everyone safe!

historybuff56 August 19, 2023 - 8:32 am

them sirens were put up after a big tsunami, and now they ain’t even usin’ ’em for fires? doesn’t make sense at all. wonder what’s goin’ on.


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