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February 7, 2013

Most emergency sirens pass the test

Five of seven sirens operational

GREENVILLE — Most of the sirens designed to warn Greenville residents of the impending arrival of severe weather passed their latest test.

City of Greenville Public Information Officer Lori Philyaw said city official were aware, going into Thursday morning’s monthly audible test, that one of the five sirens at local parks was out of commission.

“Parts have been ordered and those should be here soon,” Philyaw said. “The other four sirens that the city is responsible for worked just fine.”

Two more sirens are located at L-3 Communications Integrated Systems at Majors Field Municipal Airport. The City of Greenville is not responsible for the maintenance and operation of the sirens, but participates in the monthly tests of the units.

“One of those was already out of service that they knew about,” Philyaw said. The second siren also failed to sound during Thursday’s test. “They’ve got people out there working on theirs.”

The City of Greenville’s sirens are located at Graham Park, 800 Walnut Street;  Middleton Park, Spencer/Gibbons; Wright Park, 5501 Highway 69 South, the Sports Park, 3901 Leo Hackney Boulevard; Oak Creek Park, 10000 Aerobic Lane; with two at L-3 Communications, 10000 Jack Finney Boulevard.

Greenville Fire Chief Doug Caison told the City Council last month that the sirens are prone to failure for a number of reasons; including ants, birds, lightning strikes and failure of the power supply.

Each siren is powered by a solar panel, which also helps charge the battery system to power it overnight. In many cases, he said, the solar panels are not sufficiently charging the batteries, causing them to fail.

The current sirens were installed in 2002 for a cost of $90,000 and were expected to have a 20-year life span.

Caison said it would take about $20,000 just to get the system fully operational.

Completely refurbishing the five sirens owned by the city would cost about $74,000. Replacing all of the current sirens with brand new sirens would cost an estimated $157,000.

Expanding the system citywide, which Caison said would mean a dozen sirens, would cost a minimum of $400,000, but that would not mean residents would be able to hear them from inside their homes.

The tests of the emergency sirens are normally conducted at 10 a.m. during the first Thursday of each month.

A fire engine is set up at four of the seven locations to make sure the sirens are working properly. At three other sites, the emergency dispatch calls a pre-determined business to see if the sirens were heard.

Internal tests are performed through out the month and prior to severe weather to check the siren’s  performance status.

Tests are also being conducted weekly through the dispatch system, which is not audible.

The outdoor sirens are designed to create an audible sound to alert people who are most likely outside of life threatening events, and are not designed to alert people in buildings or vehicles.

The city also uses the CodeRED system to warn citizens of major weather events. CodeRED is an automatic telephone notification system that can dial up to 60,000 numbers per hour.

Additional information concerning the CodeRed system is available on the City of Greenville website at www.ci.greenville.tx.us/CodeRED

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