Emergency sirens are essential, but not the primary storm warning device | Local News
Some of the emergency sirens around Hardin County may not have sounded Friday before a tornado and severe storms swept through the area.
Louis Bahr, who lives near Morningside Elementary School in Elizabethtown, said he did not hear the siren near him sound at all on Friday night.
According to manager Mike Leo, when a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service, E-911 in Hardin County receives it in real time, just like anyone else.
“Once they get that notification, they push a button and it goes off the sirens,” he said. “He sends a single code that activates them across the county.”
Leo said the sirens are serviced and tested regularly, but like any other technology, it’s not perfect.
“There’s never a 100% guarantee that when we hit that button they’re all going to work,” he said.
Although the Elizabethtown and Radcliff sirens can be activated by code sent from Hardin County, the county does not maintain them. Each municipality is responsible for its own, according to Leo, and they can also be activated independently of the county.
Elizabethtown Fire Chief Mark Malone said he thinks there may have been several sirens that didn’t sound on Friday. He said there was a “communication” issue between some of their sirens and the county’s system to send them.
“It’s confusing,” he said. “Everyone is puzzled, and I have two different radio communication systems working on it, trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Malone said the malfunctions are seemingly random, making it even harder to diagnose and fix the problem. He said the siren was not sounded from the fire station that night because the crew was called to sound a fire alarm.
He said these sirens are not intended to be the main warning system of an impending storm, especially these days when cell phones are carried everywhere and alert people instantly.
“In the 60s and 70s nobody had a cell phone,” he said. “If you were outside you had no way of knowing bad weather was coming, and the sirens were put in place to warn people outside.”
Hardin County Deputy Executive Judge Daniel London said citizens should purchase a battery-powered weather radio as a backup to their phone’s warning system.
Yet sirens are still in use and are an essential part of the overall warning system.
“We know a lot of people rely on (them) and (they) are important to us,” Malone said. “We do everything we can to ensure that the sirens sound correctly all the time.”