After a presentation and purchase method approval last year, the city of Willow Park has installed its outdoor warning sirens.

“Protecting the safety of our citizens is always a top priority. The outdoor warning system, similar to the new ladder [fire] truck, provides an added layer of protection for our residents and businesses,” WP Communications and Marketing Specialist Rosealee Kertok said. “Any upgrade we can make that improves public safety is always a good thing. We thank the mayor and [city] council for approving the purchase and feel assured the system will be an asset for our fire department.”

Last May, WP Fire Chief Mike LeNoir gave a presentation to the city council about the consideration of the purchase and installation of outdoor warning sirens after a near miss on April 30, 2019, when a funnel cloud went over the east side of the city.

“This was an initiative that has been led by the fire department who realized the need for an advanced outdoor warning system for the citizens and visitors of the city who are here for our outdoor venues,” LeNoir said. “We are extremely excited to have them up and operational.”

The WP city council decided the best purchase method would be a request for proposals and unanimously approved the motion in August.

“The city was able to obtain the sirens thanks to the city of Willow Park city council who voted and agreed on the need for a notification system for its residents,” LeNoir said. “The city paid $138,665 for the turnkey system.”

Notifications will come through the system when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning or a severe thunderstorm warning that indicates for destructive winds of 70 miles per hour or greater, trained storm spotters have reported a tornado in the jurisdiction or neighboring jurisdiction that has potential to affect the community, observation of hail 1.5 inches or greater or other emergencies as directed by the community’s designated public safety officials.

“The sirens will be activated based off of a [Council of Governments] framework that is recognized throughout the Metroplex,” LeNoir said. “The system is fully automated so that given limited staffing, no one has to physically activate them. They will activate based on NWS tornado warnings or if deemed necessary based on the COG framework.”

LeNoir said the outdoor warning sirens will be tested at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month for 30 seconds unless there is inclement weather on that day.

“We have other measures in place to alert residents indoors via the city’s blackboard messaging program and are looking into better options for getting notifications out,” LeNoir said.

Kertok said the sirens are for those who are outdoors.

“We’d like to stress that the sirens are designed to be only heard outdoors by those who may not be close to a phone, television or radio,” Kertok said. “If you’re outdoors and hear the sirens, seek shelter and tune into the local weather for more detailed information. More information about the system can also be found on the city website in the January newsletter.”

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