Weather permitting, a follow-up citywide test of the City of Hot Springs’ entire emergency weather siren network will be held at noon on Tuesday, June 13. Yesterday’s citywide test revealed the need to further evaluate the tones emitted from all eleven of the city’s current siren sites. On Tuesday, city employees will be stationed at each site to document each phase of the test. Representatives from the siren provider and the radio provider will also attend the test.
The test will be launched from the Hot Springs Fire Department Emergency Operations Center. The public will hear an air horn sounded four times; a voice message announcing this is only a test; a wail lasting for one minute; a voice message again announcing this is only a test; followed by another wail. This cycle may be repeated twice. To conclude the test, an “All clear, emergency’s over” verbal message will sound. The entire test will last approximately three to seven minutes.
The wail sound is the actual sound that the public will hear in the case of an emergency.
Additionally, full-capability tests like Tuesday’s will be held every Wednesday at noon, beginning June 14. “The goal is to familiarize all residents with the sounds they will hear in the event of an actual threat to public safety,” Public Works Director Denny McPhate said. “Other cities like Little Rock do this so that their residents know if they hear those sounds at any other time than Wednesday noon, there is a true emergency.”
The city’s current siren locations include Hill Wheatley Plaza, Arlington Hotel & Spa, Ozark Street, Weyerhaeuser, Holly Street, Linwood Street, Crescent Street, Water Street, Bell Alley, Molly Springs and Lakeshore Road. The sound radius of each siren varies, depending on the number of siren heads attached. The height of each siren location as well as wind direction and velocity can have an effect on range as well. Each siren is strategically placed to overlap their designed sound radii.
In an actual weather emergency, the sirens are automatically activated when an area within the National Weather Service polygon is under a severe weather warning such as tornado warning, flash flood warning and severe thunderstorm warning. The city can also manually activate the sirens for the following weather alerts: Chemical Accident, Emergency Evacuation, Flash Flood, Emergency Announcement and Hazardous Material.
Currently, sirens cover approximately 58% of the city. Beginning in 2013, the city has installed about two sirens per year. By the end of 2017, 13 sirens will be operational; six more will be installed over the next three years to complete city coverage with a total of 19 sirens.
“If you live more than one mile east of Malvern Avenue, from Grand to Golf Links, you may not hear a siren,” McPhate added. “Likewise, if you live south of the expressway, except for a mile radius from the Lakeshore Drive/Panama Street intersection, you may not hear one. Sirens have yet to be installed to cover these locations.”