Backup process for activating warning systems streamlined in Shawnee County after sirens scrapped Monday

Sirens in working order, director says

A backup process for activating tornado sirens was streamlined by Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management after the process took too long Monday. (2008 file photograph/The Capital-Journal)

Though a backup process for activating county-wide tornado sirens — typically tested at noon on Mondays — failed, Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management says the problem has been fixed.


The department was going through a backup process scenario where limited communication was available, director of emergency management Dusty Nichols said. Though there are multiple ways sirens can be activated, the internal drill was a “worse case scenario” exercise, he said.

The process took a couple minutes too long and they decided not to sound the sirens in order to avoid any confusion from the public. Nichols said the issue wasn’t a glitch in the system, but the process moved too slowly. They streamlined the process and cut out steps. In the future, should they need to use the backup process, they will go straight to Shawnee County dispatch to activate the sirens, Nichols said.

“I’m glad we tested it,” he said.

Though sirens weren’t heard, emergency management conducted a silent test and a rotate test. Both indicated the warning systems were working.

“I’m fully confident the sirens are working,” Nichols said.

The system is checked every Monday at noon provided it’s not overcast or very cold, which could result in damaged mechanical parts. On the first Monday of every month, an alternating tone is emitted. On the remaining Mondays, a 3-minute steady blaring tone, the “normal” siren, is sounded, Nichols said.