In some local communities, tornado and weather sirens are broken or not in operation, according to a WHIO-TV Channel 7 investigation that aired Thursday.
In Kettering and Wilmington, sirens are used for tornado warnings when a tornado is sighted. But in smaller communities such as Camden in Preble County, unmaintained sirens are broken and don’t sound.
Darke and Preble counties have some sirens that are not operated because rural fire departments don’t have personnel to run them. In Mercer County, officials are empowered to sound a siren even when a tornado warning has not been issued by the National Weather Service.
The cities of Dayton and Huber Heights don’t operate sirens, but many residents can hear them sounding in nearby communities.
Each community that employs sirens has its own criteria for setting them off, said Montgomery County spokeswoman Cathy Petersen. “It’s really up to each city to decide whether they have sirens. Sirens are part of a comprehensive plan for each community,” she said.
In Greene County, Xenia police chief Randy Person said sirens are activated for both the city and Xenia Twp. by the Greene County Central Communications Center, which dispatches for police, fire and EMS. Sirens are activated for weather service tornado warnings or when a tornado is spotted by local public safety personnel.
One tornado in 1988 hit without weather service warning, but the sirens were activated when the twister was seen.
In 2009, Miamisburg installed five early-warning sirens as part of a match to a $307,712 state grant accepted on Feb. 24 by the Montgomery County Commission. It funded 40 new sirens in Dayton-area communities including Brookville, Englewood, German Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Miamisburg, Trotwood, Vandalia and Washington Twp.
To keep safe, it’s advisable to use a variety of information sources including radio, television, and special weather radios, said Tamara McBride of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. McBride said community choice in the matter of when to set off sirens is important because communities can have different hazards.
For example, Ottawa, Lake and Columbiana counties have potential hazards from nuclear power plants and might have to warn of an evacuation. Other communities use reverse 911 calls to notify residents.
But sirens are useful “if you are outdoors or asleep with the windows open. It is merely one tool to be used,” she said.
To keep safe, it’s advisable to use a variety of information sources including radio, television, and special weather radios, said Tamara McBride of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.