Weather siren installation almost completed
by W. Winston Skinner
Coweta County’s outdoor weather sirens will be fully installed soon.
Jay Jones, emergency management director for Coweta County, gave a report on the progress with the siren project at Tuesday’s meeting of the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
"They are being optimized,” Jones said. The manufacturer is checking and testing them. That work began Tuesday and should be completed by Thursday.
By next week, there should be a computer that monitors the sirens at the 911 Center and a backup computer at the Coweta County Justice Center. “Right now they're just getting the sirens themselves operating,” Jones said.
An outdoor warning system was approved as part of the 2012 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax vote. Passage of that measure "enabled us to install a system, at least our first phase of it,” Jones said. "We're near completion of that."
The first phase includes 16 sirens. Sirens are being placed at the Coweta County Fairgrounds, at county parks, at East Coweta High School and at the fire stations in Madras and near Northgate High.
"The Town of Haralson has put one in at their town hall,” Jones said, and Senoia’s city government is placing sirens on Seavy Street and at the Rockaway Road water plant.
The siren system features an audible voice, speaking in a slow, deliberate manner. The sirens are activated when there is a tornado warning from the National Weather Service.
If a tornado warning affected only part of the county, only the sirens in those areas would sound.
"The sirens work off battery power,” Jones said, and can run three hours. Most sites have an electric line that keeps the battery charged.
"Is this for tornado warnings only?" Commissioner Rodney Brooks asked.
Jones replied affirmatively — saying the sirens would be for that purpose only "so there wouldn't be any confusion.”
Initial plans called for placement of a siren at Chattahoochee Bend State Park. Requirements by the park have delayed that siren.
The county is, however, placing the siren initially slated for the park at the Madras Fire Station. Jones noted its signal will be audible from Madras Middle School, The Heritage School and Wesley Woods.
Jones said the sirens and messages can be heard outdoors for about a mile.
"It can vary on a clear day,” Jones said. "You might hear it two miles away. You might even hear it three miles away.”
“A one-mile radius is about what can be guaranteed,” he said.
Jones said the system will be tested the first Wednesday of every month at 11 a.m.
"The test will run for 30 seconds,” Jones said.
Jones said there is an email distribution list that is also activated when there is a tornado warning. The message also goes on the county’s Facebook page and on the Coweta Emergency Management Agency Twitter feed.
Technology offers opportunities "to get a lot of people notified,” Jones said.
Commissioner Tim Lassetter said the siren project is “something that protects our citizens.”
He also lauded the cities working with the county on the effort.
“It's a great thing to be able to provide that extra protection to our people,” he said.