Thanks to a joint effort between city and county officials and the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency, the community’s weather sirens can now operate more effectively after the completion of newly installed warning and activation software.
The installation also included updated control boxes at each of the 10 siren locations across Lincoln County, five of which are located within Fayetteville’s city limits, said Doug Campbell, director of the LCEMA, noting that the project got its start about a year ago with the request for funding from the Lincoln County Commission and Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The process resulted in the city and county splitting the $83,240 cost of the Storm Sentry Gold Activation System from Sirens for Cities, Inc.
“I want to thank Doug Campbell and his staff for seeing this essential public safety system updated and improved,” said County Mayor Bill Newman. “The funding and cooperation between the city and county is an example of our working together for the people we serve.”
“The Board of Mayor and Aldermen are very pleased with the updated software for the E911 sirens,” said City Mayor Michael Whisenant. “It gives staff more flexibility during emergencies and allows for data collection after an event to better plan for future emergency situations.”
“I would like to thank both governing bodies for their willingness to work with our office and fund this much needed upgrade,” said Campbell. “The system we had was over 17 years old and was a very manual system for activation.
“The new system is fully functional and automatically activated by the National Weather Service and polygon based. With this system, only the siren or sirens in the affected area or areas will be activated.”
In addition to the automatic activation, Campbell explained that the new system has a “talk back” feature, which polls each siren at a set time of day and reports back to the controller that they are operating and all systems are a go – “This allows our staff to walk into the office, look at one screen for a green light and know that all systems are operational,” he said.
In the event of severe weather, the EMA office can also do a manual poll of all or just one of the sirens. One of the other added features not available with the old system are microphones located at each of the siren locations that transmit back to the controller a record of operating correctly.
“In the past, for sound verification, we relied on the residents who lived close to a siren or school to let us know if one did not work,” Campbell said. “We appreciate all of the residents who were concerned and called our office – without them, it may have been several days before we knew of a problem. Our expectation is that this will no longer be an issue.”
The sirens can still be activated manually by 911 dispatchers if warranted, so there is also redundancy built into the system.
“A big thanks to Mr. Ed Wise with Sirens for Cities for all the patience and help he has provided during this process and for their being the successful bidder,” said Campbell.
As with any new system, there are still have few bugs to be worked out, and Campbell said he appreciates everyone’s patience and understanding.
“Severe weather season will be upon us very soon, so this new system coming on line is a huge plus for all of us in Lincoln County,” he added. “Severe Weather Awareness Month is February so watch our website and Facebook pages as we hope to be pushing out information on them.”