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Vinton officials are reminding residents of the importance of its news warning sirens and the purpose they serve. (Natalie Stewart / American Press)<br>

Vinton officials are reminding residents of the importance of its news warning sirens and the purpose they serve. (Natalie Stewart / American Press)

Sirens alert Vinton residents to take action

Last Modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 10:16 AM

By Natalie Stewart / American Press

VINTON — Town officials are reminding residents of the importance of its news warning sirens and the purpose they serve.

The warning system was installed in March to alert residents to take action in emergency situations, which includes anything from inclement weather to the release of hazardous materials.

Fire Chief Jerry Merchant said the sirens, installed at the Southside Fire Station and in the 700 block of East Street, serve to alert Vinton residents and residents in the surrounding area of an incident that requires they take action.

Merchant said it will especially be used to warn residents of impending severe weather.

“When a severe weather warning goes out over the television or radio that means there is severe weather coming in, such as high winds, hail or that type of weather,” he said. “We will set the sirens off when a tornado has been spotted, whether it’s coming directly toward Vinton or going to miss us. We need to let everyone know about it.”

In conjunction with the sirens wail to warn of imminent severe weather, the town will perform a ring down to ensure residents are aware of actions they need to take.

“If it comes over the siren that there is a severe weather warning, I want residents to know that there is a tornado imminent somewhere in the immediate area,” Merchant said. “(Tornadoes) can change direction very quickly.”

The sirens are tested every Monday at noon alternating between being operated by 911 and the Vinton Police Department.

“(Alternating who tests the sirens) gives the dispatcher (at VPD) familiarity to easily operate the equipment and instruction to know how to set off the siren,” Merchant said.

The $106,000 system can transmit a continuous warning for up to two days and the sirens are built to withstand severe weather. The alert system is the only one in the parish equipped to transmit voice messages.

Vinton paid $81,000 for the project and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury paid the remaining $25,000.

For actions to take in the event of severe weather, visit ready.gov/tornadoes.

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