Outdoor warning siren upgrades

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Cities in Champaign County have agreed to upgrade the outdoor warning sirens to make them more efficient.

Urbana was the last of four places to give the green light for the new system at the council meeting Monday night.

Most of the sirens in Champaign County are decades old. Right now the systems are analog. When the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning they have to be manually activated. The new system will be digitally activated.

This solves several issues EMA has had. John Dwyer with Champaign County EMA says, “We have to go to the box, turn a key punch in the codes and sound the sirens. The other issue is that we find out when the sirens aren’t working when they’re activated or during the Tuesday morning tests. With this new system, the sirens will be pulled every day and checked for status.”

The cost of the upgrades and upkeep totals about $50,000. That’ll be split between Champaign, Urbana, U of I, and Savoy.

There will also be an option in the future for smaller towns in Champaign county to join the new system if they’re willing to pay for the upgrade.

Champaign County EMA plans to get it up and running late this fall but there is not set date yet.

Weather permitting, they will continue to do the physical siren tests on the first Tuesdays of every month at 10:00 am.

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