March 12, 2009

City, HUD Housing to Partner for New Storm Siren System

When the city’s weather siren sounded March 10th as part of the Missouri Severe Weather Awareness month, the training exercise might in fact prove to be the ‘swan song’ for the aged system.

Memphis Mayor William Reckenberg informed the city council at the March 5th meeting that the HUD Housing system in Memphis has been approved for a $17,000 grant to purchase a new emergency weather siren to be installed at the facility.

The city has been working with emergency management director Bryan Whitney regarding upgrading its warning system.

The HUD grant will essentially allow the city to do that. The funding will be sufficient to purchase a new tower siren to be located at the HUD facility. In addition the grant will also provide for a signal device to be located at the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department, which will allow remote triggering of the alarm by law enforcement, fire and other emergency responders.

The signal system is expandable, meaning it could handle additional tower sirens if the city or county desired to install other warning sirens in the future.

The tower siren being considered for the project offers 360-degree sound coverage producing 121 dB of sound within 100 feet. That output reaches out to a 1.75 square radius at a 68 dB sound range.

Whitney indicated the current systems being considered would set atop a 50-foot pole and would offer varying sound signals to denote tests, weather emergencies and the canceling of such emergencies. He noted the system would also have the capacity to transmit voice messages from emergency personnel if necessary. He used an example of a child abduction as a situation in which the system to could be used to quickly inform the public.

Whitney estimated the cost of a second siren unit between $5,000-$8,000. Prospective bidders will be visiting Memphis to provide coverage reviews for the initial single siren unit proposal and to determine if one unit will be enough for the entire town.

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