Fairmont sirens to get new sound next week

FAIRMONT – There will be a little more siren action in Fairmont next week. If it sounds different and louder, there’s a reason.

New sirens are being installed throughout the city. Not only are they in a lower tone, but they will be louder.

“The equipment is being installed all over town,” said Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma. “This is something that’s been five years in the making.”

The current sirens were installed in 1982, with upgrades in 1993. Most have been utilized past their lifespan and some are not operating at 100 percent capacity.

“These new sirens are at 80 decibels, so most every place in Fairmont is covered, some overlapping,” said Fairmont Police Sgt. Jamie Kotewa. “They will also sound louder because they are up on 55-foot poles. The previous ones are on 40- to 45-foot poles.”

There are currently 10 siren sites in Fairmont. There will be seven sites for the new sirens. The sites being eliminated are at Tilden Street and Highway 15; Albion Avenue and Park Street; and Lair Road and Albion Avenue.

Two sites have been moved east for better coverage. Those sites being at Summit Drive and Woodland Avenue; and at Johnson Street and Highway 15.

“We’re going to have better coverage now in that area, for the soccer fields and aquatic park, the high school and the softball fields,” Kotewa said.

Although the sirens will be louder, this does not necessarily mean they will be heard indoors.

“This is an outdoor warning system; it’s not designed to be an indoor system,” Brolsma said. “It’s to warn people to get indoors and take cover.”

“It’s also not an open invitation to go out and look for the bad weather,” Kotewa said. “There are trained spotters out there doing that already.”

The new sirens are a one-tone system. When they are tested on the first Wednesday of every month, each siren will sound for three minutes.

“You won’t have the alert or the attack,” Brolsma said. “Luckily in all the 30 years we had those sirens we never had to sound the attack siren.”

While it is one continuous tone, it may sound like it is wavering because of the sirens’ rotations.

“It does three revolutions a minute,” Kotewa said. “So it will have an up and down sound as it rotates away from you.”

The sirens only sound for tornado warnings in Martin County, but officials are considering whether to sound them for other severe storms in the future.

“If we got confirmation that we had winds that can uproot trees, or golf-ball size hail or larger,” Brolsma listed. “That would only be in the daytime when people would be outdoors and need to take cover.”

The same tone would be used for all threats in the Fairmont area, and the sirens may be sounded multiple times during the threat. There is no “all-clear” signal; instead people should be indoors and monitor local media for updates on the storm.

Police also urge residents to sign up for the CodeRed warning program for severe weather alerts. Visit: www.co.martin.mn.us