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February 5, 2018
Emergency alert system undergoes major upgrading
Outdoor warning sirens now tested weekly with ‘silent test’
MURPHY (February 5, 2018) The recent incident in Hawaii in which an erroneous emergency message was broadcast, along with the ensuing panic, points to the importance of a reliable alert system with dependable precision.
“The incident in Hawaii was not the reason we embarked on enhancements to our warning system,” says Fire Chief Del Albright. “We had already planned to implement these upgrades when it happened, but the incident does illustrate the critical nature of these systems.”
Residents may be accustomed to the once-a-month outdoor warning siren testing that happens on the first Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. That’s when emergency management personnel ensure the proper operation of the system by audibly sounding the alarm, followed closely by a disclaimer that the warning was only a test.
An upgrade to the testing software has added what are referred to as “silent tests” to the system on the remaining Wednesdays of the month.
“There is no change to the first Wednesday test,” said the Chief. “Residents will continue to hear the sirens on those days. What’s different is that on the other three or four Wednesdays of the month, we will run an additional test that will likely not be heard by residents.”
The silent tests that occur on Wednesdays are not completely silent. The sirens will emit a low hum or what may sound like a growl. Unless they are positioned in close proximity to the sirens, residents will generally not hear the silent test. The sirens will, however, rotate in the same fashion as they do during the first Wednesday tests.
“We recently upgraded our outdoor warning siren system with new software which provides encryption for system security,” he said. “Plus, the additional tests give us the capability to ensure the system’s integrity and uninterrupted operation throughout the month.”
Encryption is becoming an essential aspect of public communication systems, whether audible or visual, since unauthorized entry into these system, commonly known as hacking, can compromise the integrity of the entire operation. A recent hacking of the Dallas emergency system caused an unauthorized activation of their sirens.
In addition to the monthly tests, the weekly tests will give emergency personnel the ability to constantly be aware of issues that many need immediate resolution.
Questions regarding the new system can be addressed to Murphy Fire Rescue at 972-468-4300.