Bismarck city contractors working to repair emergency sirens

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BISMARCK, N.D. - In the summer, North Dakotans can stop worrying about the extreme cold and potential blizzards for a while. But, every season has its risks.

Now, it's the potential for severe thunderstorms or even tornadoes.

Over the upcoming week, city contractors are repairing emergency sirens. Some are faulty because they make too much noise; and others, not enough.

There are 24 emergency sirens in Bismarck, but four of them are being repaired due to programming issues.

The City has been receiving calls from residents, saying some of the radio receivers are making loud, squelching-like noises. And others, won't respond to test alerts. Tests are done in-person.

"I coordinate with public works who sends out a crew, and they usually monitor 10 to 12 sirens to determine if they’re sounding and rotating," said Emergency Manager Gary Stockert.

Some of these towers have been operational since the 1990's. And the city believes it's time to look into replacements, it's far from being a critical concern.

"I wouldn't consider it a pressing issue,” said Stockert. "When we do outdoor siren tests, I would say on average we'll have to look at one siren. Right now, we're looking at four, which is more than usual."

Each siren can be up to 135 decibels, as loud as a rock concert. One of the faulty sirens abnormal call could be heard from inside an insulated boiler room at Bismarck State College.

Public Works puts a budget of $2,000 aside every year for siren maintenance, but many of those costs are covered through installation. Dakota Communications is in charge of the repairs, and they say the sirens will be fixed and operation in time for Friday morning's tests.

The alarms are tested at 9:30 am on the last Friday of every month. However, if the clouds look ominous, the test will be aborted to avoid confusion.