(2/1) When Emmitsburg’s emergency warning
system went active in 2003, the hope was that it would warn residents when
severe weather hit, like a tornado.
In that, it was successful. Less than six
months after it was installed, the system was activated to warn residents of a
potential tornado. The loud whooping siren sounded across town and then a voice
issued the tornado warning.
However, of late, the alert has sounded
when the skies have been clear. In at least one instance, the alert continued
“The problem was we were having some
issues with the batteries,” said Tim Clarke, public information officer with
Vigilant Hose Company. “They weren’t charging correctly and that was causing
Scott Cassell, service and vice president
with Communications Electronics, the company that sold Emmitsburg the alert
system, confirmed that was one problem. In addition, there was a manufacturing
problem, and in one spot wiring can rub together and cause a short circuit.
False alerts have sounded three times and
Communications Electronics has made changes after each one, thinking the
problem was solved. The most-recent fix was during the fourth week of January.
“We’ve scheduled to monitor the system
weekly through the [fire] training center,” Cassell said. Personnel from the
center will check the voltage on the solar-powered batteries and make sure
everything is in order.
The alert system went active in December
2003 after 11 months of planning. It was a joint project involving the Town of
Emmitsburg, Mount St. Mary’s University, the National Emergency Training
Center, Vigilant Hose Company and the Emmitsburg Ambulance Company.
“Central alarm can activate the system or
someone at the station,” Clarke said.
The three alarm towers are behind the town pool, on Silo Hill and by the
cemetery on the west side of town.
Emmitsburg is the third municipality in
the state to have such a system.
Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town