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September 7, 2017 The Hesston RecordSeptember 7, 2017 The Hesston Record

City Siren System Getting Upgrade In Time For Tornado Season

Posted 3/8/2017

Record Staff

With tornado season approaching Hesston Fire/EMS Chief Russ Buller approached the city council at the February meeting about replacing components for tornado siren near Central National Bank that had failed.

Replacement of the components would cost approximately $7,500 with funds coming from the Fire/EMS budget, according to Buller.  The replacements would be completed in two stages, with two sirens being upgraded at one time, then the remaining three at a later date. 

The new equipment is projected to be installed within the next 10-12 weeks, at most, for the first two sirens.

“If they put a rush on these, they can get out in three to four weeks,” said Buller.

Buller said the current system was installed shortly after the 1990 tornado and has largely been problem-free for the last 27 years.

However, water infiltration into the control box, due to how the control boxes were installed, is causing issues with some of the sirens.

“They have a battery backup in case the Westar power fails during a storm. There is significant repair that needs to be done to the boxes that hold the controls and the batteries on the polls,” Buller said.

Of the six sirens in Hesston, five have been identified as having water infiltration issues. 

During the council meeting, Mayor Dave Kauffman inquired if a tornado siren system was required for cities.

“There is now law that requires this service.  This is the misnomer, people assume they need to be woke from their beds, in the basement with the AC running and the T.V. on.  This is an outdoor warning system. If you hear it in your house, great. It’s meant to alert people who are outside,” said Buller.

Buller said Hesston is “saturated” with sirens after the 1990 tornado, with placement of sirens accounting for the effects of high wind, the height of the sirens, trees and surrounding buildings.

Buller said as the boxes are replaced, the city will receive an upgrade to the systems controlling the sirens.

“There will be new electronics, all new receivers and activation. All that is new with this and that’s why there’s such a price tag. You don’t get a new siren, but everything below will be replaced,” he said.

After the meeting, Buller said the cost of a new siren, including installation of the poll, labor and equipment, costs approximately $20,000.