There are now 5,716 phone numbers registered for those who are taking advantage of the CodeRED emergency notification program that is being utilized by the city and Union Fire Protection District.
Four years ago, the city began using CodeRED — a company that provides a system to call residents on their home, or cell, phones during an emergency or other major announcements. In July 2011, the fire district entered into a joint agreement with the city to offer the service to its residents.
“I think it’s working exactly as we thought it would,” said Fire Chief Russ Hamilton. “The key to the whole thing is to get the message out to people in a timely manner.”
The two entities split the cost for the service and pay $7,275 each for the next year of the three-year contract.
That fee includes services for up to 10,000 Union residents and the 10,000 residents who live outside the city limits but are within the Union Fire Protection District.
Hamilton said the system is not only utilized for severe weather warning, but also informational purposes.
“We always think of CodeRED being early warning for weather, but there are other applications we can use it for,” he said.
For example, CodeRED calls were made when the Jaycees fireworks display was canceled.
“We tagged on the back of that a fire warning based on drought conditions we were experiencing,” Hamilton said.
The program was used this past Saturday as severe storms approached the area.
“This is a very valuable program to get early warning out to people, not only severe weather but other important messages,” he added.
There were nearly 8,000 registered numbers in the system, but a test in May determined that about 55 percent of those were not actually reaching users. The phone numbers were added incorrectly, or had been changed or disconnected. Now there is a more than 80 percent connection rate to the 5,716 numbers in the system.
Those within the fire protection district, which encompasses all of the Union city limits, can sign up at the city’s website. Residents can sign up at the fire district’s website, www.unionfd.org.
The city’s website is www.ci.union.mo.us. Sign up is only required with one of the entities.
Five years ago, the city began using CodeRED — a company that provides a system to call residents on their home, or cell, phones during an emergency or other major announcements.
Union was the first city in Missouri to utilize the system. Other cities, including Washington, began to follow in Union’s footsteps and began implementing the system.
The city’s severe weather alert calls will be triggered by the NWS, most likely from a Bourbon facility. If Union is in the “cone” shaped path of a storm, residents will be alerted.
CodeRED receives weather broadcasts from the National Weather Service (NWS), while en route to television and radio stations.
Under the contract, the city has over 25,000 minutes available for calls. CodeRED can make over 1,000 calls per minute, depending on phone service capabilities.