Agencies may have to partner to fix weather sirens
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Jun 05, 2013 | 2847 views |  0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Calhoun County EMA worker stands beside an emergency warning siren in Jacksonville. (File photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
A Calhoun County EMA worker stands beside an emergency warning siren in Jacksonville. (File photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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JACKSONVILLE – Various agencies might have to partner up to pay for outside help to fix random outages to the area’s emergency weather sirens.

At a called work session Wednesday, Alabama Regional Communication System board members and representatives from the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, Motorola Solutions and McCord Communications agreed to split a fee to bring in outside engineers to figure out what’s causing failures of emergency weather sirens in Calhoun and Talladega counties.

The measure would need votes of approval from each of the agencies as well as the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency before an engineer could be hired.

Jeff Hudgins, a system manager with McCord, said after several months of troubleshooting, it was still unclear what is causing the 5 percent failure rate in the nearly 200 weather sirens in the two counties, and outside engineers would need to help figure it out. The cost to hire an engineer is $5,500.

Communication System board member Mike Fincher said it wasn’t fair to ask the Communication System or Emergency Management Agency to cover the costs when it is unclear whose fault the errors were.

“Let’s say I bought a refrigerator from Sears and got it home and the ice maker is broken,” Fincher said. “So I call Sears and they say, yeah, we can fix it, but we have to send a guy from New York and you have to pay for it, does that sound reasonable?”

Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathan Gaddy said the cost of the engineer is small compared to the millions invested into the system, but Fincher said the issue comes down to responsibility.

Hudgins said while the cause of the problem remained unclear, it would be reasonable to believe the failures could be fixed after inspected by an engineer.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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