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A piece of equipment from the Army Corps of Engineers measures military blast noise on Fort Sill Sept. 26. Testing will continue at locations including on- and off-post housing for nine months to gain public perception on noise levels associated with training here.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- The Army Corps of Engineers and Pennsylvania State University are researching perceptions of military blast noise from people who live on post and in the communities surrounding Fort Sill over the next nine months.

Bruce MacAllister, field project engineer, said the purpose of the study is to improve our understanding of noise management regulations.

"We understand a lot of people in the area have ties to the Army and hope they will give us some good feedback," said MacAllister. "We want people to understand this survey data can help us better understand how the number, timing, and level of blast noise events affect perception."

The corps is collecting data in two phases. In the first phase, engineers will place equipment to measure noise levels in- and outside 12 households. Residents who participate are instructed to go about their normal everyday routines, and to fill out surveys twice a day. The surveys capture participants' opinions of the blast noise events that occurred in the past 12-hour period.

"Based on that input, we examine how those data correlate to the recorded noise levels to get a better idea of what blast levels cause people to be disturbed or highly annoyed," he said. "We intend to gain understanding about peoples' response to noise of varying loudness and frequency."

A second phase of the research consists of mainly telephone surveys of on- and off-post people to gather specific viewpoints about blast noise. Conducted by a professional survey company, the surveys should only take about 10 minutes, said

MacAllister. Survey personnel will ask residents about their communities, their attitudes about noise in general and about their reactions to noise over different time periods. Scientific sampling of different households each month will allow researchers to understand how people react to noise over time and as the noise environment changes. Once compiled the survey data should help engineers develop a methodology to accurately predict blast noise response, and in turn, recommend guidelines to the Army to minimize blast noise impacts on training.

MacAllister added the Army currently assesses noise at installations by taking all of the blast noise events that occur in one year and average them into a single yearly average. The trouble with these averages is they lower the peaks and raise up the valleys where people's perceptions of specific instances of loud noise gets lost.

"We're trying to get a better idea of the range of people's opinions of noise as it fluctuates," he said.

The corps has studied other military installations across the country furthering their understanding of noise management regulations. Noise management decisions are typically based on recent noise complaints, damage claims and legal actions. While the engineers can draw conclusions at some installations based on average noise levels, they are not appropriate for periodic, impulsive noise from posts such as Fort Sill that fire large military guns.

Page last updated Thu September 29th, 2011 at 00:00