Dowagiac fire department institutes new policy for weather sirens
Published 8:23 am Monday, July 13, 2015
Though this summer’s wet and mild season has yet produced any major thunderstorms or other severe weather conditions, the Dowagiac Fire Department has recently undergone measures to help ensure that, when Mother Nature makes her fury known, city residents will be prepared.
The department has recently implemented changes to its warning siren policy, widening the number of instances the public alarms will be activated. According to the updated policy, the on-duty fire officer will activate the sirens from the fire station in the situations listed below:
The department has recently implemented changes to its warning siren policy, widening the number of instances the public alarms will be activated. According to the updated policy, the on-duty fire officer will activate the sirens from the fire station in the following situations:
• When a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service or other meteorological source (television weather desk, etc.) for the impact area.
• When a weather watch or warning has been issued for the impact area and includes one or more of the following:
– Damaging winds occurring or about to occur that exceed approximately 60-70 miles per hour
– Tornado-like rotational cloud activity that could spawn a tornado
– Reports of damage to structures, large trees, utility poles, etc.
• When observation by a trained and competent person of damages occurring such as outlined above, rotational activity, a funnel cloud or an active tornado occurring in or near the impact area.
The sirens may also be activated for non-weather related emergencies, such as when an imminent or occurring terrorist or similar violent act occurs or when hazardous materials are released, the policy states.
The fire department implemented these changes several months ago, in order to give the public a better chance of avoiding injury in severe weather conditions, said Director of Public Safety Steve Grinnewald.
“At the very least, the sirens raise awareness, giving you the ability to see something coming,” Grinnewald said. “It gives you a chance to monitor the conditions and see if you should decide to seek emergency shelter.”
In the past, the department would only activate the sirens in the event of a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning. Public safety officials have noticed, though, that the meteorologists don’t issue warnings for some storms containing high winds and rain, Grinnewald said.
“These are still things that can cause damage and injuries,” Grinnewald said.
The city of Dowagiac owns and operates three emergency sirens within the city limits: one at Rotary Park, on Riverside Drive; one at Water Tower Park, on Helena Street; and one on Grove Street. The city’s system is also linked to the weather siren located at Southwestern Michigan College and on Pokagon Band of Potawatomi property on Sink Road. When the city issues an alert, these sirens will activate as well, Grinnewald said.
The city will continue to test its sirens every Saturday at noon, except during festivals and other major city events, Grinnewald said.