The severe weather warning siren, used during the mid-80’s to notify volunteer firefighters, is undergoing a few improvements and repairs and will be operational in just a few days thanks to a $3,000 grant from Wal-Mart.
The siren, which was no longer needed for firefighters once the pager system was introduced, is located on the roof of the old Lafayette police fire hall across from the Lafayette City Hall building.
“It was unhooked years ago and the city just quit using it,” said Lafayette Fire Chief Keith Scruggs. “It’s still a fairly new unit, and we’re in the process of getting it back up and going. We’re hoping that this will be the first of three or four weather warning sirens located in Lafayette.”
The $3,000 grant is currently being used to install a paging system that will allow a dispatcher to use radio signals from a pager to set off the alarm in the event of a severe weather warning.
The Wal-Mart grant was applied for by the city and, according to Scruggs, Homeland Security grants have also been applied for and, if received, will be used to install other severe weather sirens in the city.
“We’ve established that we need four sirens to cover the city of Lafayette,” Scruggs said. “And we’re fairly confident that we’ll be awarded the Homeland Security grants we’ve applied for after the events of February 5th.”
The sirens typically reach a three to four mile radius and will sound for three minutes once a weather warning (i.e. thunderstorms, tornados) has been established for Macon County or the City of Lafayette.
Currently, Scruggs said, the city plans on performing a sound test on the first Saturday of each month and will release public awareness announcements to inform Macon County residents of testing dates so not to alarm residents.
In the final phases of improving the severe weather warning system, the siren will be operational within the week.
“Early warning of severe weather is key,” Scruggs said. “February 5th got everybody’s attention. We’re already a certified storm-ready community and this is just icing on the cake. We all realize how important early weather warning is, and we want to take extra precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.”