CLAYTON — The purchase and sharing of four warning sirens with surrounding communities at a cost not to exceed $30,000 was approved by city council at its June 15 meeting.
“We’ve discussed warning sirens in the past and we applied for a grant through Montgomery County with other multiple cities,” said Fire Chief Brian Garver. “We received $250,000 in grant money for the county with nine or ten communities involved in that process. With the dollars and cents, when there is a sharing portion with each city at 50 percent we are able to add 24 sirens in Montgomery County. What we are proposing for the city is actually four sirens. We will be sharing three of those sirens with other communities, so we will share the cost, but they are on our border so they help cover multiple jurisdictions.”
Garver told council one warning siren would be installed at Fire Station 85 next to the government center to cover all the residences in the surrounding area. That siren will cost the city $10,535. Another siren that will be shared with Englewood and Clay Township will cost approximately $5,000 and another being shared with Trotwood and Englewood will cost approximately $3,200.
“We are trying to partner with our surrounding communities so we can get more bang for our buck and the best coverage that we can get so we can afford these sirens,” Garver stated.
Garver said the location of the shared sirens might have to be adjusted depending on coverage and the availability of electricity. He said DP&L has already been contacted about the sirens. He said once the vendor supplying the sirens is awarded the bid by the county the location of the sirens can be pinpointed to provide the best coverage areas.
The warning sirens can be used to alert residents about bad weather, hazardous spills, or for terrorism, according to Garver.
“It is totally up to each jurisdiction what they use them for,” Garver said. “These sirens are capable of having different tones to alert you to different events that are occurring. Once we get the grant award we will decide how to use those.”
Vice Mayor Tim Gorman asked about the shared sirens and who would decide if they would be activated. Garver said that three of the four sirens would actually be located in Clayton.
“We will have complete control over those three,” Garver noted. “The other one will be located in Englewood and they would actually activate that siren. I have talked with Chief Bergman to get their policies on how and when they activate their sirens and we are going to get something in writing so we know exactly when that siren would be activated. I think we really need to work well with Englewood because they have sirens close to Clayton, so when you throw their sirens in to the coverage, we do a fairly good job of covering Clayton. It doesn’t make good sense for us to buy our own siren and put it close to theirs just because we don’t have the point of activation. When we spread this map out it looks pretty good from National Road, to Westbrook Road, to Diamond Mill Road to Main Street for coverage.”
Councilman Mike Stevens asked what residents should so when a siren goes off. Garver said the intended use is for weather, but the sirens can be used for other purposes because they are warning sirens. He said usually the sirens are used to warn residents about a tornado, at which time they should go inside and find the lowest level on the interior of their house and keep a weather radio on or have a TV on nearby so they can monitor what is happening.
Whenever the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning that includes the Clayton area, the sirens would automatically be activated as they would be interconnected to the warning system.
“Our goal is to not set these things off just when the county has a tornado. It has to be somewhere in a close proximity to us, otherwise if you cry wolf too many times people really won’t pay any attention to it,” Garver added.
The various tones for different types of warnings would also have to be decided upon. He said the warning sirens are just one part of the warning system and that citizens would need to take it upon themselves to use Social Media, the news, or sign up for Hyper Reach Alerts and use those in conjunction to the warning sirens in order to have the best alerting method possible.
Residents can use the city’s website to sign up to receive alerts or download and send in forms and city staff will sign them up, or they can call and provide their information over the phone and staff will enter it into the system for them.
“We are trying to do multiple things to make it easy for the residents. We sent forms out with trash bills so they could sign up, so we are doing pretty good,” Garver noted. “I think we have around 1,500 residents that are on Hyper Reach, and that is pretty good compared to other communities that have been on it two or three years longer than we have.”
Council approved the purchase of the warning sirens and controls for total cost to the city not to exceed $30,000.