PIEDMONT -- An emergency activation system that will contact Piedmont residents to warn of a disaster or other threat should be in place by September, the city's Public Safety Committee has learned.

Officials are now testing the Code Red emergency system that can alert residents in a given geographic area or citywide, said Piedmont Fire Chief Bud McLaren. McLaren made his report to the city's Public Safety Committee at its Aug. 6 meeting. City employees in the police, fire and public works departments are being trained how to initiate an alert, and McLaren said the city hopes to have the system up and running by Sept. 15.

Alerts can be sent out to cellular phones via text bulletins and emails or by phone, he said. The system is designed to alert residents of emergencies such as gas leaks, flooding, street closures due to accidents and other emergencies. Similar systems using phone messages are used in other communities to alert residents who live near oil refineries of toxic leaks or fires.

Residents who want to sign up for the service will get forms during the city's Harvest Festival in late September.

They will be urged to opt for the text or email system, which allows for unlimited use without charge. The city will have to pay for phone notifications.

In a related item, police Chief Nikki Goede reported that installation of video cameras at key entrances to Piedmont is progressing with a possible November startup date. The cameras are being installed after some home-invasion robberies in Piedmont, and Goede has said the systems help police identify suspects or other evidence during crime investigations.