Local jurisdictions follow strict protocol for sounding tornado sirens

Tornado siren test Friday, March 6, 2015. (WDTN Photo/Paul Rodzinka)
(WDTN Photo/Paul Rodzinka)

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – In the event of a tornado, local municipalities and dispatchers have a strict protocol they follow. Part of that protocol includes working with the National Weather Service to make to sure–when a warning is issued–that the tornado sirens are sounded without any issues.

It’s a sound not heard often, but when it is Fairborn Fire Chief Mike Riley is one of the people partially behind it. He says those warnings can be issued several different ways.

“When the national weather service issues a polygon over a geographical location that is going to be affected by a tornado then that automatically sends out a pre-recorded message by phone,” Fairborn Fire Chief Mike Riley said.

That message then goes out to every registered landline in Greene County and serves as their indoor alert system.
It also triggers dispatchers at the Fairborn Dispatch Center to sound the tornado siren to warn people outdoors.

“A tornado siren is an outdoor warning system designed to alert people outside,” Riley said. “Often times it gets confused that it’s intended to wake you up, but that’s not the intent.”

If you don’t have a landline to rely on, Riley urges residents to register their cell phone with their city to receive a similar alert. The city will issue its own warnings if the National Weather Service isn’t tracking that particular storm.

Using the program Hyper Reach, Riley can pin-point and alert a specific area that might be in trouble.

“There is flexibility still,” Riley said. “It’s automated, yet still flexible to be able to deal with something that happens upon us that the system hasn’t reacted to or recognized yet.”

 

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