Pawhuska’s municipal storm sirens are nearly as unpredictable as the Oklahoma weather they’re to warn against, according to City Manager Paul McAlexander.
That’s why the city is currently in the process of developing a new storm-siren system ihat it hopes will protect area citizens from weather-related dangers and save taxpayers’ money in the process.
The current storm-warning system, which has been in use for almost half a century, involves 13 sirens operated by way of a telephone company landline. While the costs keep going up for keeping the system operating, its reliability — due to age and technology — has continued to decline.
"You don’t know if they’re gonna operate," said McAlexander. "It’s a continued maintenance issue."
In addition to improving safety issues, the new storm sirens should end up saving the city money, the city manager said. Fortunately for all, the old system has not had a major failure, but its archaic features cause serious concerns every time threatening weather approaches.
McAlexander said costs to operate the aging siren system have risen from $400 to $1,200 in the past two years. While the initial expense will be high, a five-siren system currently being installed (at a total cost of $63,000) is expected to pay for themselves within a few years.
Although the number of sirens being used by the city is being cut in half, local officials stressed that the increased coverage area of the units will be cause them to be heard at least as well as their predecessors.
And, the best feature of all will be their anticipated reliability — as no longer will officials need to make contact with the phone company before the sirens can be sounded.
The new system also employs a battery-powered backup generator that insures its operation even if the area is left without electricity.
All five of the sirens should be operating by the end of May, officials added.