In 2011, the city of Chillicothe made major improvements to its emergency siren system.
The improvements added voice capabilities to the sirens at Danner, Shaffer and Simpson Parks. Changes were also made to when and why the sirens will sound. Due to a mild storm season last year, the sirens went unused. Fire Chief Darrell Wright said some residents may not know how the sirens work, or may have forgotten.
The sirens were approved in 2011 and installed early 2012.
“Last year, we didn’t use them at all. It was just hot, dry and no storms. A year happened, we didn't use them, and people kind of forgot how they worked. We wanted to take this opportunity to re-educate them.”
Prior to the installation of the new systems, the sirens were sounded only when there was a tornado warning in Livingston County. Wright said changes have been made to warn residents of additional inclement weather issues, in addition to tornados, that may be on its way to the area.
“What we do now is if there is a severe thunderstorm approaching, we put a voice alert out to seek shelter,” Wright explained. “If you’re out at the end of the golf course or you’re at the ball field, it gives you probably ten minutes to gather up your kids and get in your car. Most of those storms pass very quickly.”
The new sirens will also provide information of more serious thunderstorm warnings.
“If that’s issued, we'll put it out in the parks, which we didn’t used to do,” Wright said. “We also have the ability, if we’re just getting severe lightning, to put it out. That’s mostly for the pool and those people at the ballparks on aluminum bleachers.”
Wright said the new sirens are tested at 11 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month during the storm season. The sirens will notify residents of the test using the voice function. Wright said he plans to test the sirens annually in the alert mode to test that function, as well.
“Once a year, and that's probably going to be in March, I want it set off in the alert mode,” Wright said. “As we know, we can test the system and that all the test buttons might work, and all the sudden this button doesn't work. Once a year, I want to know that part of the system works.”
In addition to the monthly test and the proposed yearly test, Wright said the sirens conduct a daily self-test.
“Each day at 8 a.m., these sirens talk to each other,” Wright said. “We really do a daily test. If we miss that monthly test for weather or whatever, we’ll wait because the next morning it will test. It sends a signal to each one of them. If there’s a problem, it’ll have a color and it takes care of that.”
Page 2 of 2 - The next test of the emergency siren system is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 3.