New Sirens Ready For Business As Tornado And Wildfire Season Arrive

Siren1Photos and story by Laurie Ezzell Brown

The installation of new emergency warning sirens in Canadian and Glazier is near completion this week, awaiting only the expected midweek placement of the final siren at Hemphill County Courthouse. The first test of the new Canadian’s updated and expanded emergency warning system was expected to be performed as early as yesterday or today.

Eight of the nine new sirens have been installed, Judge George Briant reported this week. One was dropped and its replacement is being sent from the factory. Dale Schafer of Schafer Services programmed the button which activates the new warning system on Tuesday at the Sheriff’s Office, and said that the initial test of the equipment might occur as early as Wednesday evening.

Schafer explained that the new siren tones would differ slightly from previous signals. The fire siren will have what he described as a wailing tone, which will sound four times in a high-low sequence—16 seconds on high and 8 seconds on low—for 1.5 minutes total. The tornado alert will be a steady tone that lasts for three minutes.

Schafer was unsure what the all-clear signal would be following a tornado warning siren, but that it would probably be determined when the system is tested this week. In the past, the all-clear signal has been two 30-second tones. Schafer also said the new warning sirens will not sound continuously, as in the past. They are set on a timed sequence that must be activated each time it sounds.

The siren located in Glazier can be activated independently of the other eight sirens, according to Judge Briant, providing alerts specific to that community.

More information about the new emergency warning system will be reported in The Record when the protocol for each alert has been established.

The $180,400 project to update and expand this community’s early warning system was undertaken and funded by Hemphill County Commissioners. The new sirens are radio-controlled, eliminating the need for dedicated control lines, and offer a two-tone sequential signal with an average radial range of 1.5 miles each.

Sirens placed in two new locations will extend protection to the growing residential and business sector along Hackberry Trail on the south perimeter of Canadian, as well as to the residents of Glazier who—given their history—understand better than most the need for early tornado warnings. Most of the new sirens replace old ones located at 115 Cheyenne, 723 Santa Fe, 821 S. 5th, 504 Red Deer, 411 Purcell, 714 Purcell and 1513 Locust. Contractors for Fort Worth’s Gifford Electric have been performing the installation.

The new sirens replace an antiquated emergency warning system that was showing its age—most notably when the siren on Red Deer Street suddenly came crashing to the ground last August, the apparent victim of a rotten support pole. That and the fact that some areas of town were either unserved or poorly served by the decades-old warning system may have precipitated the county commissioners’ interest in updating the equipment.

The anticipated test of the new sirens this week occurs at the advent of the spring tornado season and against the backdrop of red flag wildfire danger warnings issued at midweek by the National Weather Service for the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.