Warning system gets upgrade

Advanced technology replacing old storm sirens
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Blue Valley Public Safety employees Thurlow Forester, left, and Mike Hurst install a tornado warning siren Monday on Shepard Street. The $310,000 task of replacing 21 warning sirens was approved by voters last fall.


Across the street from Shepard Boulevard Elementary School, the warning siren that once stood as tall as the surrounding pine trees is in disarray. Metal pipes, a utility pole and the old siren lie parallel to the cul-de-sac.

Jeff Edington, Mike Hurst and Thurlow Forester of Blue Valley Public Safety set down their tools and return to work after a setback that cost them three hours. The truck that was supposed to help them install the city’s new warning siren has a broken spring that needs to be fixed.

Blue Valley has been hired by the city to replace 21 warning sirens around town, eight of which will be relocated. The $310,000 job was approved by voters as part of a public safety sales-tax issue on the November 2005 ballot. Blue Valley’s headquarters is in Grain Valley.

Blue Valley began working to replace the sirens the week of Oct. 17, but it had replaced only four by Monday night.

“We’re not really behind; we just want to be further than we are,” says Edington, an insulation specialist for Blue Valley.

Edington is the lead man for the team. He would not answer further questions and said that Blue Valley workers have a strict “I don’t know” policy when it comes to reporters.

The new sirens have a “two-way reporting system” that enables the city to test the sirens without sounding them every month. The replacements act as two-way radios, sending diagnostic information back to the joint communications office so emergency management crews know whether they’re working. The older sirens could only receive transmissions telling them to sound off.

But Emergency Management Director James McNabb said regular tests might continue.

“Just because we have the capability to not do audio testing (doesn’t) mean that we won’t,” McNabb said.

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