Radio frequency blamed for east Arkansas sirens' malfunction

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - A change in a radio frequency knocked the city's storm warning system out of commission, according to Mayor Larry Bryant.

The Times-Herald reported last week that none of the city's five tornado warning sirens are currently working.

According to Bryant, city officials have learned that the problem with the system is tied to a recent move changing the city's bandwidth to meet Federal Communications Commission guidelines.

"We basically got caught by surprise with this. Last year we had to change all of our handheld devices so that we could meet the FCC regulations. What we didn't realize is that when we did that, we no longer had the ability to communicate with the siren system because each of those sirens is activated by radio," said Bryant.

Bryant said turnover at the police department contributed to the problem and added that employees are working to make sure the system is once again operating properly.

"We put this system in several years ago when Eddie (former Forrest City Police Department lieutenant Eddie Adamson) was still here and he oversaw that. He's been gone for a while now and that was handed off to others who aren't with us anymore, so some of the turnover we've had got us this time.

"The chief now has all of the information and we're working on it. We have someone coming in who is going to go up the towers and assess our needs and also take a look at the system over at the police department and see what is needed," said Bryant. "The fix could be as simple as replacing those radios unless something has to be done at the police department. But, we are working to get that taken care of."

Bryant said a technician was scheduled to check the system today or tomorrow but might not be able to do so because of inclement weather. He said if the radios are the problem, then it could cost the city around $850 per siren for each of the five sirens.

Bryant also said he would not have a timeline for repairing the system until a technician has assessed the situation.

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