Sumner County residents want tornado sirens; EMA says they aren’t effective

(Photo: WKRN)

SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – People in Sumner County are voicing their concerns about not having tornado sirens.

Officials told News 2 not only do they not have warning sirens, but they don’t plan to install any, saying they aren’t that effective.

“There’s concern about it and we have a lot of people that talk to us about it,” Ken Weidner Director of the Sumner County Emergency Management Agency said.

Hendersonville had sirens until the early 80s when the technology became outdated.

“The technology is 1950s technology, air raid sirens. That’s where that came from, and you know home construction has changed dramatically since then, so if you take home construction back in the 50s where people probably could have heard an outdoor warning siren, they are less apt to hear that now unless one is real close to you,” explained Weidner.

The EMA director says warning sirens are hard to hear for those who are inside their homes.

“The intent of the outdoor warning sirens is to notify people that are outside–ballparks, municipal parks, maybe a downtown area where people are outside,” he explained.

Ken Weidener, Sumner County Emergency Management Agency (Photo: WKRN)

Weidner told News 2 one siren runs around $25,000, but he says it’s not about the cost.

“They actually make people complacent. That’s one of the things with the frequency of activation, during test, during false alarms, which the vast majority of warnings are false,” he said.

While Weidner acknowledges other counties like Davidson, Williamson, Wilson and Rutherford use tornado sirens, he points to a weather radio as serving the better purpose.

“Number one is a weather radio and have it where it’s going to wake you up when you are asleep. We utilize code red in this county to send warnings out, or other special messages, but then over 92 percent of the population has a cell phone… so we recommend apps, text messages.”

Sumner County resident Jason Hasdy said he uses his phone, but it isn’t a source he can always rely on.

“Instances where it could be dead or not in service, sirens would be a big help,” Hasdy explained.