FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — With Allen County’s outdoor emergency siren network aging, a new study is examining if the cost to maintain the system is worth it.
The Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Initiative is teaming up with the Allen County Emergency Management Advisory Council for the study. They are looking for public input through an online survey about how residents get information during severe weather events.
The research initiative organization says outdoor emergency warning sirens have played a central role in warning people historically. However, with numerous other technologies now available for personal use, they are investigating if the sirens still have an important role.
“It seems reasonable to engage our community up-front and let you tell us how important they are to you before we recommend spending of your money on this program” said Bernie Beier, Director of Homeland Security for Allen County.
The organization says the warning sirens were originally built to serve as a Civil Defense warning system, later becoming a tool to alert volunteer firefighters of a call for fire service in their township. It was not until the late 1970s when they became an outdoor warning tool to alert residents of severe weather events such as a tornado.
The current network is in need of upgrades and replacements, some relating to FCC0-mandated requirements. Taxpayers would need to make a significant investment if the system continues to be an important part of the overall severe weather warning system.
The survey has a map of the outdoor siren locations as well as questions about how people can hear the sirens, how they get information about severe weather, the value of cellphone alerts and the perceived need for siren upgrades. The survey is available through Sept. 15.