By Lookout Staff
April 27, 2015 -- They're powerful, completely silent and powered by a pollution-free energy source Santa Monica has in abundance, City officials say.
“They're here now, and they're great,” Santa Monica Emergency Services Administrator Paul Weinberg said of the two portable solar-powered emergency light towers the City took possession of this week.
A four-city partnership with West Hollywood, Culver City and Beverly Hills resulted in a $200,000 federal Department of Homeland Security grant in 2013 to purchase eight of the portable towers. Each city got two of the lights, which will create a shared-response system for the area in the event of a large-scale localized disaster, Weinberg said.
“If it's something localized, we can share, bring them in from the other cities,” he said.
Since 2003 when a car plowed through the Farmer's Market and most recently the multiple-shootings near Santa Monica College in July 2013, City Police and Fire first-responders have needed “emergency lighting that can be transported to multiple sites in a short amount of time,” a City staff report said in February when the City Council approved a contract with provider Solar Services Inc. of Corona.
Detectives and other official investigators also will be able to use the towers to light up crime scenes and to recover evidence in natural and man-made accidents and disasters, Weinberg said. Search-and-rescue personnel might use them for night-time rescues following a big earthquake, he added.
The sun -- or a standard plug when it's too cloudy -- will provide enough clean power to keep the towers lighted for up to 12 hours, and the system is “absolutely silent,” said Weinberg.
“When you use a regular portable light it has to be connected to a generator, usually a diesel generator, so obviously you're using diesel fuel, and the engines are very loud. These are literally silent.”
Residents can get a first public view of the new solar light towers at the Santa Monica Festival, Saturday, May 9, at Clover Park at Ocean Park Boulevard and 25th Street, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Weinberg.