ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. — Some good news for St. Clair County residents, the county is putting roughly $2.5 million of American Rescue Plan funds into its severe weather warning system.
St. Clair County will be replacing 79 severe weather warning sirens and installing 43 new ones making for a total of 122 across the County.
“A lot of these sirens have been in place for decades. A lot of them haven't worked for decades. They wore out, parts were hard to find and even budget constraints kept them from replacing them,” St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Herb Simmons said.
Each siren is owned by individual communities or cities and now with this county partnership it will be easier for them to maintain and set off.
“We were able to negotiate with the vendor a three-year warranty on them. So, everything is good for three years on them. After that, each year the county will pay the preventative maintenance fee of $25,000,” Simmons said.
The new warning system is more automatic which is a relief for Fairmont City Fire Chief Robert Allen who for the last 30 years has been in charge of pressing the button to set the siren off.
“To have the same siren system across the board takes a lot of guesswork out of who's blowing what siren and at what time are they blowing them, and these new sirens allow the computer to generate the polygons and directly come from the National Weather Service,” Allen said.
These sirens are mainly used to alert people who are outside, which is important in Fairmont City where they will be getting a third siren to serve Worldwide Technology Raceway and the stockyards.
“At any given time during the day, there could be as many people working in the stockyards as there are residents that are living in Fairmont City proper,” Allen said.
Also, with the anniversary of the tornado in neighboring Edwardsville right around the corner, filling in the blind spots is very important right now to keep people safe.
“Any time we can get that warning out there, whether it's a minute to couple of minutes, it makes a big difference,” Simmons said.
St. Clair County officials hope all of the new and replacement sirens will be installed by May or early June next year.