Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 27, 2012

Russell considers siren system

Could alert citizens to weather, other dangers

RUSSELL — Residents of Russell could soon be alerted to a variety of natural and human-made dangers via a siren alarm system.

Russell city leaders voted unanimously Monday night to investigate the cost of purchasing and installing three sirens in the city. The move comes in the wake of the powerful storms and tornadoes that swept across the state March 1-2, devastating a number of eastern Kentucky communities including West Liberty, Salyersville and Paintsville. The storms claimed 24 lives.

“As a citizen I was concerned,” said longtime Russell Councilwoman Sissy Shaffer, recounting how she huddled in her basement the evening of the storms as weather officials projected their storm paths on television. “I think we need something,” she said, “I just think it is important for us to look into. It’s just important for our citizens. To me its worth it if we never use it.”

According to Russell Fire Chief Billy Salvage, the city would need three sirens, each covering an area of about a mile. The sirens cost an estimated $10,000 each, but that price does not include installation, he said.

The sirens would be controlled by wireless remote from the 911 Center and would each have 16 unique sounds, so residents could distinguish what type of threat they were being warned about. For example, severe weather could have one alarm and a chemical leak along the railroad another, Salvage said.

“Education would be a big part of this,” he added, noting residents would have to be educated on what to listen for and do in response to each alarm. Salvage said the cities of Raceland and Worthington already use their old fire department sirens to alert residents of approaching weather.

Other communities including Ashland, do not have such alarms. “But I’m sure they will be checking into it,” he speculated, noting the storms striking so close to home is spurring discussion about the need for a warning system among citizens and emergency response officials alike.

Salvage noted that even before the storm Greenup County Emergency Management Director Butch Bass tried unsuccessfully to write a grant for such an alarm system that would have served the entire county.

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