Monday, February 18, 2002

Siren song: Tests to get last blast

Warning system upgraded

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A $500,000 project to revamp all 19 emergency sirens in Campbell County will be complete by the end of March.

        By then, county residents won't hear the sirens sounding the first Wednesday of each month, as has been the case throughout the region in recent years. The tests won't be necessary, officials say.

        Campbell County Emergency Management Director Ken Knipper told a joint meeting of Fiscal Court and city officials last weekthat the final link is being completed now between the county dispatch center and the sirens, enabling electronic activation of the sirens.

        “New sirens have been installed at several locations, and other sirens already in place have been converted or upgraded as necessary,” he said.

        “This is a state-of-the-art system, and we won't blow (sirens) on a monthly test. It's not necessary, and we have found that people become accustomed to hearing the sirens every month and perhaps don't pay as much attention to them when they are sounded for an emergency.”

        Under the new system, which cost about $500,000, an operator at the dispatch center in Alexandria can send a radio signal to any of the sirens and receive a signal back to show that everything is working properly.

        “The radio setup in each siren can both receive and send, and it tells the dispatch operator if there are any problems like a low battery or some malfunction,” Mr. Knipper said. “There is no need to activate the siren.”

        Residents of some smaller Campbell County cities, such as Southgate and Melbourne, also will no longer hear the sirens sounded from firehouses to summon volunteer firefighters.

        “That's no longer needed, and it would only confuse people about why the siren was sounding,” he said. “Firefighters and EMTs all carry pagers that notify them of a run.”

        The county emergency sirens will still sound for storms and other emergencies. All are positioned well above ground, for maximum sound-carrying potential and security.

        “If someone wanted to reach one of the sirens, they'd have to bring a ladder,” Mr. Knipper said. “And if the door to access the internal area is opened, it gives an alarm at the dispatch center.”

        When the new county emergency dispatch center opens this summer, the system that runs the siren network will be transferred to the new location in the Newport city building.

        Also last week, county commissioners, mayors and city managers heard from Jim Duane, executive director of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, regarding OKI's $110,000 transportation study for the county.

        “We will look at the infrastructure needs of the county, as well as highways and other transportation needs,” Mr. Duane said.

        The study is not intended to deal directly with interstate highways and possible light rail, Mr. Duane said. Those projects are parts of other OKI studies.

        “We will look at the needs of mobility within the county and how that can assist the county with economic development,” he said.


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