August 14, 2008

City to Pursue Funding For Storm Sirens

Emergency Management Director Bryan Whitney presented a proposal for upgrading the city’s emergency warning system at the August 7th meeting of the Memphis City Council.

Following fatal storms in Iowa, mayor William Reckenberg suggested upgrading the city’s warning siren, noting the current siren set-up required to much time to be triggered. Currently the warning siren must be activated at the city water plant, requiring a phone call from the dispatcher’s office.

Whitney presented a proposal to upgrade the nearly 50-year-old system with a new, louder siren that could be triggered by wireless activation keys. Those buttons could be located at the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department in the dispatch center, as well as in all emergency service vehicles such as police, sheriff and fire department.

The emergency director noted that grant funding for these types of projects is available through the USDA, but the application period is in February.

The council authorized Whitney to contact siren system distributors in an effort to schedule a review of the community to determine exact needs. There was some concern among the council that the community might need two sirens.

Whitney also asked the city for permission to review the possible installation of a warning light at the intersection of Madison Street and Clay Street (Highway 15) where fire trucks enter traffic to respond to emergency calls.

He indicated the department had decided to make this intersection the department’s main entry point due to the construction of the Bank of Memphis and the new Memphis City Hall directly to the south of the fire station. The department wants to avoid the added pedestrian traffic in those areas.

The city agreed to allow Whitney to pursue the proposal and authorized the city electric department to assist in the project.

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