Sirens on Dale commission agenda again

Admin

Deactivation of emergency weather sirens located in Dale County moved closer to reality when the Dale County Commission authorized the county attorney to notify each municipality informing them of the county’s intent.

The commission authorized Dale County Attorney Henry Steagall III to send letters to each of the municipalities within the county informing them that the commission is in the process of deactivating the sirens “and in their place will activate a more technologically advanced telephonic warning system which will reach more of Dale County’s citizens without the chance for failure when an emergency comes.”

Commissioners are working with Dale County Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt McDaniel to transition from the emergency weather sirens to an enhanced and cost effective critical communications provider.

The siren subject arose after a Jan. 24 work session during which Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship told commissioners that it was his understanding that Daleville was interested in operating the weather siren independent of the Dale County Emergency Management Agency director.

At that meeting, Steagall told commissioners that municipalities operating a weather siren independent from the county EMA would be responsible for the siren’s repair and maintenance.

The issue was again discussed in February when McDaniel told the commissioners that the issue of who maintains the emergency weather sirens is paramount. “The weather siren repeater took a lightning strike in our last storm and (the 16 sirens) are currently down,” McDaniel said.

The sirens, when functional, are operated off of the old city of Ozark fire department repeater, McDaniel said. “However, the city of Ozark has vacated that repeater and gone to a digital system so the (Dale County) sirens are the only things attached to that repeater.”

McDaniel said the Ozark mayor had discussed giving the repeater to the county’s 911 operations but that the 911 board of directors declined the offer. “So we (Dale County) are looking at the expense of getting the repeater up and getting the 16 sirens operational,” he said.

McDaniel suggested that the county operate the two sirens that are not in the jurisdiction of a municipality—one near Echo and one near Skipperville—and turn responsibility for the remaining sirens over to the respective municipalities.

McDaniel recommended that the county partner with Rave Alert, a state-of-the-art and cost effective critical communications provider that can send emergency alerts to land line phones as well as cell phones. McDaniel hosted a webinar, open to the public, May 3 with the company.

The base setup price for Rave Alert is approximately $6,500, McDaniel said.

The county is in the process of seeking bids from all those interested in bidding on the contract.

Level Plains is a city considering ownership of the siren located within their city limits but at the May 23 commission meeting, Level Plains Mayor Bruce Grantham requested more detailed information about the sirens prior to making a decision.

After 4 p.m. daily, all Level Plains emergency calls are turned over to the county E911 center, Grantham said. Who will make the decision of when to activate the siren? Who will actually activate the siren? Has anyone evaluated the condition of the sirens? What is the cost to bring the sirens up to operational?

Grantham’s questions are among those that need to be addressed at a meeting of county, municipality and emergency response officials prior to finalizing anything, Steagall told the commissioners. A date for the meeting had not been set by the Daleville Sun Courier press time.

The next meeting of the Dale County Commission is Tuesday, June 13, at the county government building in Ozark. The work session is at 10 a.m., followed immediately by the voting meeting.

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