An outdoor emergency warning system has been worked into the City of Fate’s upcoming budget for 2019-2020 fiscal year, which consists of two outdoor sirens.
The omnidirectional sirens have been placed in city budget after city council approved a proposal indicating the possible locations and cost, which was brought to them by city staff.
In addition to the two sirens, their installation and maintenance, the budget includes funds for a program called CivicReady, an emergency notification system that would allow city staff to send alerts for weather threats, road closures and other sudden events.
Fate City Manager Michael Kovacs expects the additions to cost just over $100,000.
“It’s roughly $107,000 for the first year and for future years it’ll drop,” Kovacs said. “We think we’re going to be in the $70,000 range for the sirens. The maintenance contract will pay the first year which is about $15,000.”
For the CivicReady notification system, Kovacs said it would cost around $6,500 for the first year and $5,700 for subsequent years.
Department of Public Safety Chief Lyle Lombard, who has been working on the location and activation measures for the warning system, said he anticipates the two sirens will be located where they can reach most of the city’s population. But the exact location hasn’t been determined.
“We don’t have it set in exact concrete as far as placement, but we’re wanting one in the CD Boren Parkway area for the Woodcreek neighborhood and we’re wanting to put one in the south side, kind of like in the Chamberlain Crossing neighborhood so that we can get the north and south side of the most densely populated areas of the city,” Lombard said. “That’ll cover a large majority of the city because of the radius we’re looking for.”
If placed in the indicated neighborhoods, the sirens would be heard by those residents at about 70 decibels, depending on relative location to the sirens. Residents outside the 70 decibel range should still be able to hear the sirens, although at a lower decibel level.
Lombard said the activation policy would include situations like sustained wind at more than 70 mph, hail more than an inch in diameter that’s been reported, confirmed tornado activity and similar cases.
“Those are our parameters, plus if the National Weather Service says we’re in a tornado path or things like that we would also activate them for a faster warning and not just wait for a sighting,” he said.
He indicated that as the city grows, the city might look into adding more outdoor sirens in the future to expand the alarm coverage area.
“We have a lot of areas in the city that aren’t developed into housing neighborhoods so as those develop, and if the city grows or annexes more, then we would need to add more,” Lombard said.
The sirens and notification system, once installed, will provide another layer of advance warning for Fate residents in addition to the Nixle notification network (if subscribed to the service), city and county social media accounts, NOAA Weather Radio, media outlets reporting the weather and smartphone applications. Assistant to Fate City Manager and Deputy City Secretary Jessica Larson emphasized that the outdoor sirens are additions to the warning system already in place.
“The sirens are something for those that are outside,” she said. “They’re not designed to be heard inside houses, even though you might hear them inside. They’re designed to let the people know that are outside that don’t have their cell phone on them or are at a park, not paying attention on their phone that they need to pay attention.”
Still in the planning stages of the project, Lombard and city staff are considering different options on who activates the sirens. One option is the possible coordination with Rockwall to activate the sirens since they handle Fate’s emergency dispatch, while another includes Fate DPS having the ability to turn them on and off.
To opt-in to the Nixle notification network to receive alerts from the Rockwall County Office of Emergency Management, residents can text RCOEM to 888777.