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Jan 29, 2013 5:15 PM

Frankfort / Franklin County Office Of Emergency Management Having Emergency Siren Issues

The Frankfort / Franklin County Office of Emergency Management & E-911 has released a statement on their Facebook page concerning the malfunction of two of their 22 sirens in their outdoor warning siren system.

The following is the text of the post by Director Deron Rambo:

Recently, we had 2 out of the 22 sirens activate spontaneously due to an unknown malfunction. Because of that we temporarily took the Outdoor Warning Siren System off line to ensure that no more false activations would occur causing undo panic to the public. These types of incidents are very rare but do happen. Remember, these have been in place since the late 50's and early 60's and over that period there have been very few incidents with the system. We have a technician from out of state scheduled to troubleshoot and service the system next week.

With spring just around the corner and severe storm season upon us once again I would like to officially address some questions and misinformation regarding the sirens here in Frankfort / Franklin County. I'm concerned that the focus on these "tornado sirens", more appropriately called Outdoor Warning Systems lead many people to reach incorrect assumptions about their capabilities, effectiveness,and their role in warning the public. With this in mind, I have listed some very important points.

1. Outdoor warning systems are,as the term indicates,intended primarily to provide warning for people who are outside and who don't have access to other sources of warning and emergency information. It's obvious, of course,that people in homes, schools, factories or other structures that happen to be located within a close proximity of a "siren" might hear it when it's activated. It should be equally obvious that people in some structures might not hear the warning because of distance from the equipment,terrain,climatic conditions,type of structure,noise in their location,personal physical capacities,and other considerations.

2. In most cases,simply hearing the wail of an outdoor warning system does not provide specific information about the emergency. These are not just "tornado sirens", they could be used to alert people of a hazardous materials release, dam failure, or any other event that poses an immediate risk to life and property. The proper response when you are outdoors and hear the outdoor warning system is to seek shelter and turn on the TV, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio to find out what the emergency is and what measures should be taken. Remember these sirens were first invented as Civil Defense warning devices to alert the public of an atomic or nuclear threat.

3. Outdoor Warning Systems are only one piece of a well-balanced public notification system. Other methods of notification in our community include TV,radio,NOAA weather radio,social media,mass notification (reverse 911),cable over-ride,direct text and email notifications. It should be noted that just a couple of years ago Frankfort / Franklin County committed almost $150,000 to the upgrade of our communities Outdoor Warning System that consist of 22 sites including a new one at Buffalo Trace Distillery which was purchased by Buffalo Trace to ensure their employees working outside would hear the notification. A list of these sites can be viewed at www.frankfortema.org

4. No one should depend solely on a single method of getting information that might save lives,prevent injuries,or limit damage to property. We just recently received a grant to install a new NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter in Frankfort to ensure that residents and visitors have a clear reception. NOAA Radios are very affordable,easy to obtain,and every home should have one. Most people would not go to bed at night without a working smoke detector in their home and a NOAA radio should be no different. NOAA radios were provided to every school in Frankfort /Franklin County and have been placed in areas where the public regularly visits such as government buildings, library, etc...

5. Outdoor Warning Systems are sounded for severe weather if a Tornado Warning has been issued for Franklin County. This could be an actual confirmed tornado or one indicated by radar. They will also be activated if a tornado is in a neighboring county and moving toward Franklin County. They will not be sounded for a severe thunderstorm. Sirens are tested at Noon on the first Monday of each month unless threatening weather is in the area.

For an alert and warning system to be effective it should include as many of these methods as possible. To find out what is available in our community and to sign-up for these free notification services visit www.frankfortema.org.

The Frankfort / Franklin County Office of Emergency Management provides several free notification services but sadly very few take the time to sign up.

Please remember that first and foremost the safety of you and your family is your responsibility. Everyone should have a NOAA radio,a 72 hour disaster kit,and a family emergency plan.

For information on how to prepare,plan,and stay informed please visit www.frankfortema.org.

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