The Walker County Commission voted Monday to approve an agreement that will allow Walker County E-911 officials to be the primary official to activate the weather sirens, with Walker County Emergency …
The Walker County Commission voted Monday to approve an agreement that will allow Walker County E-911 officials to be the primary official to activate the weather sirens, with Walker County Emergency Management Agency Director Regina Myers acting as backup.
"Years past, the 911 agency actually activated sirens during tornado warnings. Then it was given to EMA to activate the sirens under tornado warnings," Myers told the commission Monday.
Myers - who is the only person staffing her department - had problems setting off the sirens remotely in June 2018 while she was at school, as she was not within range with the mobile technology she had.
She said she approached E-911 to be a backup, but in reviewing the matter, officials from both sides agreed that it made more sense for E-911, with its various officials, to have first responsibility to activate the sirens, with Myers to be the backup.
Myers will still serve as back up, as well as take turns with E-911 to test the systems. She said her agency will still be responsible for overall maintenance of the sirens, although it only says in the agreement that "Walker County" will be in charge of maintenance and upkeep.
Currently, thanks to ladybugs getting into a duct system and getting water into a radio board, only one siren is in disrepair and is being attended to. District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt noted six years ago, only 24 of the 45 sirens were operational.
"It's so great to have such a good working relationship" between Myers, the commission and E-911 Director Tim Thomas and the E-911 board, District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said. "Lots of things go on behind the scenes between the two entities, especially during storms," Davis said.
Thomas said it made good sense to make the change as E-911 operates 24/7 each day. "We're glad to help out and do it," he said.
Myers said officials didn't want to overload dispatchers with their work, so they were consulted first during the process.
The agreement approved by the commission notes that once E-911 activates the sirens, it will then try to contact the EMA director, with those attempts being logged. If EMA gets word of the warning first, that agency will contact E-911 and advise it to activate the sirens. E-911 will not be held liable in the activation of the sirens.
"During a severe weather event, E-911 will monitor the National Weather Service, 800, radio, local television stations, NOAA weather radio and the weather radar computer to stay current with severe weather watches and warnings," the agreement said.
Either side can get out of the pact by giving 30 days notice.