Officials are warning residents that they may not be notified by the city’s storm sirens if there is severe weather.
City Administrator Russell Rost said one — possibly two — of the six severe weather sirens in Union will sound if there is a storm warning.
He explained that the notification of severe weather is dispatched by the Franklin County Sheriff’s office and then transmitted to siren receivers. The receivers are capable of receiving broadband frequency transmissions, but the transmissions sent by the sheriff’s office now are narrowband.
Federal standards required agencies to update to narrowband frequencies.
“In the past, the police agencies and emergency services operated on broadband, and that took up much more space and limited operations of radios,” said Rost.
So for now, Rost said residents who are not using the city’s CodeRED notification system should sign up.
CodeRED notifies residents through a phone call of severe weather, other emergencies or important announcements.
“Storm season is upon us, and I understand there are strong storms to the southwest that have the potential to move through here,” he said. “If you are not signed up for CodeRED, it is now more important than ever.”
Rost added that once the sirens are working, residents can remove themselves from the notification system if they choose.
According to Rost the sirens were all receiving transmissions last spring during testing.
He said that a siren located on West Springfield Road, by the Union Firehouse No. 1, malfunctioned late last year. When repairs were made, the new components were for narrowband frequencies.
Rost said that the siren will still sound during severe weather.
A siren located near Wal-Mart, off Highway 50 in east Union, may still sound during severe weather, but there is no guarantee.
Blue Valley Public Safety, a company that is contracted to maintain the sirens, is expected to submit a proposal to the city for the cost to convert each siren to narrowband.
“Once we figure out what the resolution is, we will get things up and running as quickly as possible,” said Rost. “We hope in a few weeks we get them fixed, but it will be into the storm season before it is resolved.”
The company provides a system to call residents on their home, or cellphones during an emergency or other major announcements.
Four years ago, the city began using CodeRED and in 2011, the fire district entered into a joint agreement with the city to offer the service to its residents.
CodeRED receives weather broadcasts from the National Weather Service (NWS), while en route to television and radio stations.
Sign-up is free and is only required with one of the entities.
The city’s severe weather alert calls are triggered by the NWS, most likely from the Bourbon facility. If Union is in the “cone” shaped path of a storm, residents will be alerted.