It could be well into the height of the severe storm season before all of the city’s warning sirens will sound.
City Administrator Russell Rost Monday told aldermen that it is estimated to cost more than $12,500 to make needed changes to six storm sirens in the city, and it could take 12 weeks before the sirens are functioning.
Rost told The Missourian last week 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.
He requested that aldermen give the approval to accept the bid from Blue Valley Public Safety, a company that is contracted to maintain the sirens, to install narrowband receivers in all of the sirens.
“I would consider this an emergency,” he said.
There are six city-owned sirens, as well as one owned by East Central College.
The cost to convert the ECC sirens was included in the estimate presented to the board Monday, and ECC will fund its portion of the repairs, according to Rost.
One 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.
The county changed its frequency to narrowband due to federal requirements.
Monday night, officials again urged residents to sign up for the CodeRED notification system.
“This is a good time to consider CodeRED,” said Mayor Mike Livengood. “It’s easy to do.”
CodeRED notifies residents through a phone call of severe weather, other emergencies or important announcements.
He further added that some residents would prefer not to receive phone calls for each severe weather situation, but users can pick and choose when they are notified.
“You can really cut down and get fewer calls,” Livengood said.
Once the sirens are working, residents can remove themselves from the notification system if they choose.
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.