Bismarck going back to monthly siren testing

BISMARCK, N.D. - After a year of Bismarck's sirens failing, the city had to go to weekly testing of the system in an attempt to fix the problem.

Silence isn't golden when emergency sirens don't work. Siren six at the corner of Reno and Wachter in south Bismarck hasn't worked for most of 2019, according to the emergency manager.

"In the 15 years I've been here I've not seen it where a siren didn't get taken care of for months on end like it has been for this year. So 2019 has been an exceptionally poor year for getting the radio controllers repaired on our outdoor warning siren," said Gary Stockert, Bismarck emergency manager.

Stockert says the city has had three complete system failures in 2019. The issue is coming from the radio control system for the sirens provided by Dakota Communications. The company has been repairing the system free of charge this year, but Stockert says the problems have been prevalent enough that he's looking into replacing the system.

"The current radio controller system hasn't proven to be reliable in 2019. Prior to that I wouldn't say we've had any significant issues. We will need to take a look at and evaluate and look at different options that we may need to move forward with as far as to make sure we have a reliable outdoor warning system," said Stockert.

Stockert estimates that replacing the control system would cost upwards of $75,000 if the department were to go ahead with it. Any action would have to be approved by the Bismarck City Commission.

The city has gone back to monthly tests even though three sirens still aren't working.