Questions concerning Sedgwick Co. tornado sirens

WICHITA, Kansas — Does a siren pass or fail?

That was the reason for a test of the outdoor sirens yesterday.

There are nearly 150 of the loud speaker-like devices scattered throughout Sedgwick County. We rely on those when we’re outside to let us know of severe weather in the area but what happens when the sirens fail the test? KSN’s Craig Andres got answers to that question today.

The county emergency people say the system is working quite well. They definitely give it a passing grade with only one siren reportedly not working this week out of 147 sirens. But if you live near that one siren that didn’t work, would you give it a passing grade?

“They were working on it the other day. Somebody was doing something over there but I couldn’t tell you what,” said Earl Patrick, a Wichita resident near the one siren that didn’t work.

Patrick said he didn’t hear the siren a half block from his house.

According to emergency leaders, they tell us some are fifty years old or older so there will be some failures on a limited basis.

“Will we replace all the old ones? Eventually. We’re trying to work into a program of replacing them,” said John Crosby, Sedgwick County Emergency Management.

John Crosby with the County Emergency Management says they’ve already requested five new sirens or upgrades this year. The cost is $100,000.

However, county commissioners did approve nearly 23 million dollars in improvements in Sedgwick County for 2014 so five new sirens would be less than half of one percent of that budget.

Karl Peterjohn responded to questions about replacing sirens.

“If we need more sirens, or more sirens replaced, let’s have a discussion. These are tight budget times but we want to keep the storm warning system strong,” said Peterjohn.

Crosby wants to be clear, the old sirens are working just fine, they just need maintenance and sometimes on the little things.

“That’s why we have to go through and check wiring and make sure everything’s in good shape. And when fuses blow, you find out why the fuse blew, you don’t just put a new one in,” said Crosby.

One example of one of the issues a siren can have is that the motherboard goes out. Without the motherboard the siren will still be in working condition but there is no longer communication between the siren and the trigger.

After Monday’s test the one motherboard that was out causing the siren not to sound has been replaced according to Emergency Management leaders.

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