Forrest City tornado sirens out of order; city working to repair

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - As severe weather season approaches, Forrest City's tornado sirens aren't working.

"We tried it this weekend and found out it's not even working right now," said Maj. Deon Lee, adding that there was a glitch in the system somewhere. "We need to take it out and find out what's wrong with the thing - the program to set it off."

Mayor Larry Bryant said that after a phone call, he went over to the police department, where the system is run from, and found out for himself.

"I went over there," he said. "It failed Saturday. They are working with the company to find out what went wrong. I don't know anything other than it has done it before."

Bryant said he had been in contact with the police department last week, reminding them that the system needed to be up and running because of the approaching tornado season, and said, "I don't know what happened. They are supposed to be working on the sirens. Nobody told me they weren't working."

He said regular maintenance is supposed to be done on the system.

Neither Bryant nor Lee could give an estimate of when the sirens would be working.

"It's because spring is coming up and we try to get them checked out," said Bryant.

It is not the first time there has been a problem with the tornado sirens. A Times-Herald article in August of 2008 reported that the storm sirens were out of commission. Again in April of 2011, several sirens were reported as being out of commission, although most were quickly prepared.

Bryant said there are also supposed to be silent tests run on the system every day. On Saturday, the audible siren system is supposed to tested at noon. The exception is when there is bad weather. When the weather is bad, the system is supposed to be used only in case of a tornado warning. Lately, there hasn't been any testing.

Bryant said it may be time to look at replacing the system.

"If those things go bad, it might be time to look at upgrading or going to something else," he said. "I'm hoping I can get more information. It caught me off guard."

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