The town of Vinton recently installed a new siren warning system to alert residents to take action in emergencies. The sirens, located at the Southside Fire Station and in the 700 block of East Street, can be heard throughout the town when they go off, said Fire Chief Jerry Merchant. (Natalie Stewart / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 9:54 AM
VINTON — The town recently installed a new siren warning system to alert residents to take action in emergencies.
The sirens, located at the Southside Fire Station and in the 700 block of East Street, can be heard throughout the town when they go off, said Fire Chief Jerry Merchant.
The purpose of the sirens — similar to those in Westlake, Sulphur and Lake Charles — he said, is to warn residents in the event of a hazardous materials release, inclement weather and other emergencies that require residents to take action.
Merchant said Vinton is the first in the parish to have a siren equipped with the capability to send out a warning of severe weather.
“Currently, the warning systems out there now are strictly for hazardous materials, shelter-in-place and evacuation notifications,” he said.
Vinton’s emergency system — which is primarily operated by 911 — is also the only one in the parish equipped to transmit voice messages.
“If we have an incident here ... we notify 911, and they immediately send out the notice,” he said. “Although we have the capability of sending out a voice message, we are going to depend on using the siren to get people inside where they can get information from the TV or weather radio.”
Merchant said the Vinton Fire Department will also be able to send alerts over the system.
“There are several layers to notify residents,” he said. “If someone is outside, this may be the only thing they hear and that’s what this is for — to close the gaps of notification when others don’t reach residents.”
The $106,000 sirens are battery powered, can transmit a continuous warning for two days and are built to withstand severe weather.
The town provided $81,000 for the project, and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury paid the remaining $25,000 in costs.
Merchant said the town will begin testing the sirens April 8 and will test them every Monday at noon — as other sirens in the parish are — after that initial testing.
Merchant said that although the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn’t requiring the town to install the warning system, Vinton will follow FEMA guidelines — which require testing once a week to ensure the system is working properly.