"It's an upgrade," Madison County Emergency Management Services Director Dustin Heiser said of a recent upgrade to the county's sirens.
Starting this month, a new set of emergency sirens from the American Signal Corporation will begin being installed throughout the county. Implanted in sets of 20; there will be 74 sirens in total. While that number is fewer than the number of sirens in current use, they will still cover all of the same ground. The cost of the upgrade is roughly $3 million.
"It's newer equipment, so everything is going to be fresh. It's putting us in a great spot for a post-CSEPP world and providing the same footprint of coverage that we have today," Heiser said.
The new sirens will be taller and louder than the current ones being used, according to Heiser. This is part of the reason why the same amount of ground will be covered with fewer sirens. The voice messages used by the current sirens will also no longer be featured in the new ones. According to Heiser, EMA has received complaints over the years from citizens because they were not able to hear what was being said in the messages.
"We're going to be doing a whole message campaign about what the sounds that come out of the siren mean. We're gonna be refining that bit to make it simpler," Heiser said. "There's plenty more information to come about that as we get through this process. But right now, they're just going to start putting them in the ground."
The current system of sirens will still be in use through the entire installation process of the new system. That process is about to be in its baby steps, Heiser said.
EMA does not have a timeframe for when the county will officially make the switch over to the new sirens.
Judge Executive Reagan Taylor made a statement to the Register about the new sirens.
"Public safety of our citizens is always our top priority and this nearly $3 million upgrade of our outdoor siren system by the federal CSEPP program will continue to alert Madison Countians in the event of an emergency. The new siren system will provide the same level of protection and service while preparing for the future. We have been very thoughtful and strategic in these upgrades and maximizing the federal investment for the long term success of our county," Taylor said. "We want Madison Countians to have the same level of service now in a post-CSEPP Madison County. We want our citizens to have the same safety they are used to and deserve now and in the future, but without any financial implications. The replacement of the sirens throughout our community will make sure our community is equipped with sirens for another 20 years."