Thursday, April 14, 2005

Officials answer queries about weather sirens

Staff Writer

Several recent questions from residents about why the City of Holly Springs has no weather sirens were answered by officials.

Emergency Management Director Hugh Hollowell said the city had one that was used to alert fire fighters to come to dress out for a fire but new communications do not require a whistle.

The area has never had a tornado siren system, he said.

Money is a big obstacle to local government. Sirens today cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 a piece, Hollowell said, and it would be cost prohibitive to buy enough to cover even the Holly Springs city limits.

Fire Chief Ken Holbrook agreed, saying that whistles cost $15,000 and up and it would take a minimum of five to cover the entire city.

A survey prepared for former mayor Eddie Smith showed weather sirens to be too costly for the city’s budget, he said.

Hollowell encouraged individuals to purchase a weather radio which can be set to go off when a weather alert has been released from the National Weather Service. Those radios can be purchased for $30 or $40 and he has one at home and one in his office, he said.

He didn’t think one siren in the city would do much good. He’s a firm believer in weather radios.

“The problem with sirens is - when do you set it off?” he said. “I would encourage a weather radio over anything else because you can have it wherever you go.”

Holbrook said it would cost between $80,000 and $90,000 to install sirens in the city and that state and federal grants do not include monies for sirens.

“They consider that a local problem,” he said and added that the locality has to decide what risks it wants to take.

Money is available for fire fighting equipment and communication equipment, he said, under Federal Fire Act legislation.

“Sirens are not a priority in any grants I’ve been able to work with,” he said.

Holbrook said the fire station does not have a weather radio but fire fighters can keep track of the weather in their trucks by tuning in to weather channels.

“It would be the same information you have on television channels,” he said.

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