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Metro’s Office of Emergency Management plans to upgrade all 73 existing sirens and put up 20 new ones all in an effort to save precious seconds that could prevent a tragedy.
Twenty two tornadoes tore through the Midstate in January. They caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage and even claimed a life.
Gene Hartsell was killed when a tornado knocked a tree onto the shed where he was sleeping in Bordeaux. Relatives said a better siren might have saved Hartsell's life.
“If he would have known that and heard that might have would have woken him up a little bit better than I did and made him come on in,” said Deadrick Lockridge, Hartsell’s relative.
The Metro Office of Emergency Management is hoping to prevent future fatalities by changing the sound emergency sirens emit from a digital-sounding tone to a more mechanical sound, like a military, air-raid siren.
"The key thing is it will be distinctive,” said Scott Potter, director of Metro Water Services. “I think people will associate the sound with danger and will prompt them to go inside."
City officials say the new sound will also be audible from farther distances, and armed with 20 new sirens, the warning system is expected to reach more people.
"That enlarges and expands our footprint from a standpoint of being able to hear it," said Charles Shannon, assistant fire chief.
The new siren locations are based on 2010 census data and take into account changing population density.
"The old system that was installed in 2002 had reached the end of its useful life so we needed a new system to replace that but we also wanted to expand the system,” Potter said.
The new sirens are planned to go up as far north as Goodlettsville, and as far east as Hermitage.
In the south, Antioch is getting five new sirens, and the farthest west is near Bellevue Park.
Here in Bordeaux, the new plan will upgrade the siren 1.5 miles east of the home where Hartsell was killed, and build a brand new one 2 miles to the south.
"I hope it plays a part in the next storm that comes through and saves somebody's life," Lockridge said.
Wednesday, February 27 2013, 09:39 PM CST
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