The City of Hot Springs announced that two additional emergency weather sirens are planned to be installed and operational by the first of August, bringing the total number of sirens in the city’s network to 13.
One new siren will be located the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department right-of-way between the Belk parking lot (in Cornerstone Marketplace) and Pakis Street. The other siren will be installed in the greenspace between the Lakeside Primary School front parking lot and Malvern Avenue. Pole installation will begin next week.
The first full-system test of the City of Hot Springs’ entire emergency weather siren network was held on June 13. The test revealed a launch sequence error which has since been corrected.
Weekly full-capability tests, using the wail sound that would be heard in an actual emergency, are now launched every Wednesday at noon from the Hot Springs Fire Department Emergency Operations Center. The public hears an air horn sounded four times; a voice message announcing this is only a test; a wail lasting for one minute; a voice message again announcing this is only a test; followed by another wail. The cycle may be repeated twice. To conclude the test, an “All clear, emergency’s over” verbal message will sound. The entire test lasts approximately three to seven minutes.
“We want to familiarize all residents with the sounds they will hear in the event of an actual threat to public safety,” Public Works Director Denny McPhate said. “They can know if they hear those sounds at any other time than Wednesday noon, it is likely to be a true emergency.”
The city’s current siren locations include Hill Wheatley Plaza, Arlington Hotel & Spa, Ozark Street, Weyerhaeuser, Holly Street, Linwood Street, Crescent Street, Water Street, Bell Alley, Molly Springs and Lakeshore Road. The sound radius of each siren varies, depending on the number of siren heads attached. The height of each siren location as well as wind direction and velocity can have an effect on range as well. Each siren is strategically placed to overlap their designed sound radii.
In an actual weather emergency, the sirens are automatically activated when an area within the National Weather Service polygon is under a tornado warning. The city can also manually activate the sirens for the following weather alerts: Chemical Accident, Emergency Evacuation, Flash Flood, Emergency Announcement and Hazardous Material.
Currently, sirens cover approximately 58% of the city. Beginning in 2013, the city has installed about two sirens per year. Over the next three years, six more will be installed in order to complete city coverage with a total of 19 sirens.