Rolla first responders explain why storm sirens did not sound

Storm sirens failed to sound in Rolla Tuesday. First responders say a technician discovered why the system malfunctioned and it is back up and running. (Megan Sanchez/KRCG 13)

In the midst of severe weather warnings across mid-Missouri Tuesday, protocol did not go as planned in Rolla.

Rolla Fire Chief Ron Smith said at 4:22 p.m. Tuesday, Central Communications received notification that West Central Phelps County was under a Tornado Warning. While all other emergency alert systems operated correctly, the city's storm sirens did not sound.

The sirens had last been tested on June 6 and all systems were functioning. When the sirens did not work Tuesday night, staff troubleshooted without success. A technician came out to investigate.

Smith said technicians discovered while a back-up generator was installed last week, the storm siren system rebooted. This caused it to default back to an old channel - which is not the proper channel needed for the system to function.

"It's been fixed and repaired," Smith said. "Today, we tested our system at 10 this morning, and all 10 outdoor storm sirens operated properly."

Smith said there are several other options citizens can utilize to receive notifications regarding severe weather in lieu of the storm sirens.

Phelps County has an everbridge system. This is a free service people can sign up for online that will allow them to receive notifications through phone, email and text regarding severe weather.

"They can subscribe to that," Smith said. "It's a really easy process, but it does require them to subscribe. If they don't, then that information would not be sent to them."

Smith said equipment is going to malfunction occasionally, but he wants to ensure Rolla residents that they are in good hands.

"We will attempt to set up back-up systems in the future," he said. "We're doing the best that we can, and we're expected to do a good job."

"We've fixed the issue, and we're looking at ways we can prevent it in the future."

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