Willow Park OKs purchase method for outdoor sirens

From left, Willow Park Fire Engineer Jared Junker, WP Fire Chief Mike LeNoir and WP Place 2 Council member Amy Fennell, discuss information about purchasing outdoor warning sirens for the city. 

After the Willow Park City Council heard a presentation on the need for outdoor warning sirens at a previous meeting, the council unanimously approved to request for proposals for the purchase.

WP Fire Chief Mike LeNoir gave a presentation about outdoor warning sirens at the May meeting, saying that after a near miss on April 30, it was time to consider the purchase of the sirens.

“It provides early detection and lead times for notifications of severe weather — tornados, flash floods, hail, high winds — everything that we get. Parker County and Van Zandt County seem to be the two target spots, and I don’t know why,” LeNoir said. “The average lead time is 13 minutes for a tornado warning, which is a vast improvement from decades ago. It’s just another tool in the toolbox and prevents the loss of life and provides early warning.”

LeNoir went over some incidents that have occurred over the past few years.

“We had a rotating funnel cloud on April 30 just south of Willow Park — Hudson Oaks and Aledo sirens were activated. We were sitting and watching it pass by and it went just east of us over [Farm-to-Market Road] 1187,” LeNoir said. “On Aug. 5, 2017, Willow Park received straight-line winds in excess of 70 miles per hour and downed trees throughout the city. On March 17, 2016, at 6:30 a.m., North Willow Park received damage from an EF-0 tornado that came across the southern portion of the lake.”

LeNoir said they would get sirens that would cover all areas of the city.

“We would have them strategically placed within the city on city property, so that it would cover the schools, the senior housing, the hospital and the residents,” LeNoir said. “The National Weather Service would issue the notifications automatically, so when your cell phone goes off, guess what? The sirens go off. We can also manually activate them at the public safety building.”

WP Fire Engineer Jared Junker said they would following the testing schedule provided by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

“So usually it’s the first Wednesday of each month, so on a monthly basis is when we would do a test and that’s part of the COG’s framework, which is just a standardized guideline of how everyone amongst the region does their testing and activations,” Junker said. “How it would work for us is the system would pick up our city limits and if that polygon that the National Weather Service issues falls within the parameter, then it will activate the system. So usually if it hits our system, we’re within a close enough range that we should be warning our citizens anyways.”

The WP council decided to table the motion for the purchase at that time and revisited with approval of request for proposals as the best purchase method at its recent meeting.

“This is for the outdoor warning system that we need to RFP for that we had back in [May], we had some issues with the RFP itself so we revamped this,” WP City Manager Bryan Grimes said.

The proposals for the purchase of the outdoor warning system will come back for review by the city council at a future meeting. 

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