Council heard several options on dealing with antiquated emergency siren throughout Greenwood County. Director of Emergency Services, Derek Kinney along with George McKinney, Emergency Management Coordinator presented to council several issues relating to the current sirens. In this presentation Kinney explained the original purpose for these sirens were for civil defense warnings. Some time later Greenwood County added procedures to sound the sirens for weather alerts. Kinney said the sirens are basically design to alert those outside their homes in case of an emergency.
Over the years the County has tested these sirens and found sometimes certain ones did not operate properly. Some citizens complain that they never hear the sirens. So now the issue is how to proceed, should the County fix the current sirens or replace the system with new technology.
McKinney explained there are several limitations and problems with the current sirens. Some limitations are distance (basically sounds a little over a mile), no backup power supply, weather conditions dampen their effect and people indoors or in vehicles can’t hear them.
The age of the sirens present further problems. It may be difficult or impossible to find parts explained McKinney. Also they have not been narrow banded yet which is required now and ensure other devices do not activate them by accident.
The current status of the sirens is also an unknown as they have not been tested since June of 2012 and no maintenance performed since 2011.
In summary, for the County to check and inspect all sirens Kinney projects the cost to be around $43.6 thousand.
Kinney informed Council that there are currently several ways to stay inform about emergencies from weather radios to text alerts and alert registrations with local media outlets. Kinney said the best thing they can do is help educate the residents on all of the options currently available.
“We need a formal plan” stated Councilman Steve Brown. “We have a responsibility to the residents” he said as council all agreed to allow Emergency Services to further investigate the best path forward to help ensure the safety of Greenwood residents.