By Dennis Minich
As part of a state-wide test, the tornado sirens in Harrisonville were tested March 5. If you didn’t hear them, you weren’t alone. The test served its purpose as the sirens failed to perform and repairs were made later in the week to correct the problem.
Eric Myler, fire chief and director of emergency services, said the problem was in the receivers in the sirens themselves.
“They are all radio controlled and all operate off of our old VHF (very high frequency) system. Each has a receiver which is activated by a radio. In this case, there was a problem with the receivers and we had someone out on Friday to make the repairs. The sirens were tested and they now work.
“This is exactly why we test them,” Myler said.
While most of the emergency services in the city operates with digital equipment, the sirens remain on the VHF signal. Myler said updating the system would be “very expensive.”
He added there is no real back-up system if the sirens don’t sound, although the usual practice is police and fire personnel would patrol the city with sirens sounding to alert the public, but even that has its limits, according to Myler.
He said, “If tornadoes are that close, our people have to head for safety as well.”
Harrisonville was not the only city in the area to discover issues during the state-wide tests. Liberty was also reported to have problems which have now been corrected.
The city tests the sirens monthly. The next test is scheduled at 1 p.m. March 20.
“They are normally scheduled on the third Wednesday of every month,” Myler said.