Archive for Thursday, July 25, 2013

40 years ago: County, civil defense hammer out policy on warning sirens

July 25, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for July 25, 1973:

It was official -- the new warning sirens were to be for imminent threats only. The Douglas County siren warning system was to be used only if a tornado was approaching or in case of a nuclear attack, according to new regulations established this week by the county commission. Commissioners had met with county civil defense director H. H. Belote and City Manager Buford Watson in order to establish firm guidelines for the use of the warning system, which had been installed this past year. The commission ruled that "in activities relating to storm warnings, the civil defense director is expected to sound the sirens when he has determined through authentic sources that tornado activity is imminently threatening the city and residents should take cover." Belote explained to the commissioners that he had sounded the sirens the previous week because he had been told by the National Weather Service in Topeka that "the hottest cell we have had this year" was about to pass over the city and "there was no way to tell what would drop out of it." The weather service had issued only a severe thunderstorm warning with that storm, not a tornado warning. Belote also told the group that he did not feel it should be the responsibility of the civil defense director to make the decision to sound the sirens; he preferred that this task should be given to the chief of police or the sheriff. However, Watson told the Commission that such warning systems were almost always the responsibility of the civil defense director, who should be the best-informed and best-qualified person on the job. Belote and Watson were both in agreement that residents could receive an "all-clear" notification from radio and television and that there was no need for the sirens to sound an all-clear; commissioners agreed, and included the "no all-clear" policy in the new guidelines.


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