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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 12, 2018 12:10 pm

Commissioners OK $28,000 study of emergency sirens

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The Allen County commissioners unanimously approved a $28,000 agreement today with Purdue Fort Wayne's Community Research Center for an assessment of the county's emergency siren system.

It's a joint contract with the city of Fort Wayne, Bernie Beier, the county's director of Homeland Security, said. The city will pay half of the total contract price, Beier said. 

"Over the decades that they've been put in place, there was never really any master plan," Beier said. "They came and went just kind of ad hoc, as needed, after an event." 

The assessment will not only explore the sirens' functionality, but also look at the system's effectiveness overall. If the system is to stay in place as it is, significant investments must be made, Beier said. The study is expected to run from November through June 2019. 

"There's so many solutions and I think what we're going to find in the survey is that there is not one answer but it's going to be a cluster of answers that are unique to each community, even within the county," Beier said, noting that the system will have to be developed in a way that allows for flexibility in serving urban and rural populations. 

Other technologies, such as automatic phone calls or text messages, are available now that may be more effective at reaching residents, Beier said. 

"Before we make significant financial decisions on radios, on hardware, it just makes sense to take a good long hard look, independent look inclusive of everyone in the community ... so that there will be input and considerations truly from the whole community before we present different courses of action back to the commissioners and to the councils on what to do with this system," Beier said. 

Commissioner Nelson Peters said there are 55 sirens throughout the county "in various states of existence." Most of those are within the city of Fort Wayne.

dgong@jg.net