St. Clair County is currently phasing out all outdoor warning sirens that are no longer operational.
According to St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Patrice Kurzejeski, these outdoor warning sirens were never intended to be a main source of warning citizens for severe weather.
“These outdoor warning sirens were installed starting in 1993 to warn St. Clair County citizens of an incident involving hazardous chemicals at the Anniston Army Depot,” Kurzejeski said.
Currently, there are 25 outdoor warning sirens located in the unincorporated areas of St. Clair County that are being taken down because they no longer are operational.
St. Clair County officials stress that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radios, free Apps downloaded to your phone and local meteorologists are better to use for accurate notifications.
Reasons outdoor warning sirens are not reliable include:
• With them being outdoor warning sirens, they are exposed to the potential of lightning strikes, high winds, tornadoes, etc.
• The radio system used to activate the sirens could be damaged/down.
• If these outdoor warning sirens were in perfect working condition, the chances of hearing them over the wind and rain and from inside a home are very minimal.
St. Clair County EMA planner Bryan Schaefers said residents need to understand the importance of having a plan in place.
“By having a plan in place, citizens have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts that can save their lives,” Schaefers said. “Sirens were put into use during the Cold War in the 1950s as part of the US Civil Defense program to warn of impending nuclear attacks.”
Schaefers noted that during that time, there were no NOAA radios, cell phones, apps, Google, Internet or towers.
“The NOAA radios can be programed for weather watches/warnings you want to be warned about in the area you live or work,” Kurzejeski said. “They are most beneficial during the middle of the night. The tone is loud enough where it will wake you.
St. Clair County Commission Chairman Paul Manning said the outdoor warning sirens served a purpose and need during the time of chemicals at the Anniston Army Depot.
“Now, with new technology, this commission understands the importance of moving forward with this better technology,” Manning said. “The EMA has worked hard to keep citizens of this great county safe.”