Manitowoc siren out of service after malfunction

An emergency siren in Manitowoc is out of service after malfunctioning on Monday, May 12, 2014. The problematic siren, outside Stangel Elementary, is shown.

MANITOWOC – A City of Manitowoc emergency siren is out of service after it sounded unexpectedly Monday morning.

"Everything appears to be fine, but there's still no reason that the siren should have activated by itself," said Manitowoc Fire Chief Todd Blaser.

Blaser says the siren – located at Stangel Elementary on the city’s northeast side – sounded twice between 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m.

The city’s 10 sirens are tested every Saturday, said Blaser. And the sounding Monday was not part of a test, an area emergency or severe weather.

City sirens are activated with a changing tone for one minute in the event of a severe thunderstorm warning; three continuous minutes in a single tone for a tornado warning. The rest of the county’s sirens will only sound in the event of a tornado warning.

Blaser says city electricians have removed the malfunctioning siren’s electronic components and are sending the parts back to the manufacturer. He says repairs or replacement should take about one week.

FOX 11’s Bill Miston asked Blaser if residents should be concerned with the siren being out of service.

"No. No real concern, whatsoever," he replied.

Blaser says that's because the majority of the city's sirens overlap. However, police and fire will be told to take extra steps to notify the area, in the event of an emergency.

"Those sirens are specifically for outdoor purposes,” said Blaser. “They're not meant to notify you inside your house."

Have a plan in place

"There's no one perfect system," said Nancy Crowley, the director of Manitowoc County’s Emergency Management Department.

She says in addition to the sirens, there are several layers that are used to alert people in case of emergencies: a special, one-way paging system between dispatchers and schools and an Internet-based phone alert system.

Crowley also urges people to purchase a weather radio.

"People unfortunately ignore all the methodology we have in place," said Crowley of the difficulties to get people to be proactive when it comes to emergency preparedness.

This is why she and Blaser both say the mechanical malfunction of the siren can be used by the public as an initiative to put an emergency plan in place.