By Timothy Cox
Mercer County emergency management officials plan to install eight more warning sirens throughout the county, including in three communities that have no present warning system.
Bid specifications are being prepared for eight of the all-hazard outdoor warning sirens, with the $137,000 estimated cost being entirely covered through federal homeland security grant money given to the local office. The sirens are used to warn residents countywide or in individual communities of an impending threat, usually a severe thunderstorm or tornado. The sirens can be used to warn of virtually any public threat, said Wanda Dicke, interim director of Mercer County's emergency management office.
The new sirens would give the county 23 total devices. The Coldwater, Chattanooga and Burkettsville areas would get sirens for the first time.
"This will give us pretty good coverage, but I don't know if you can ever have too many of these things," Dicke said. "They save lives."
Three of the new sirens are to be placed in and around Coldwater, two around Celina, and one each in Chattanooga, Burkettsville and St. Henry. The exact location of the new sirens has not been determined. That will be done with the assistance of the contractor selected to supply and install the sirens, Dicke said. In Auglaize County, only a portion of this year's grant money is going toward sirens. County officials plan to put sirens in Minster, New Knoxville and Waynesfield, said Dennis Mallory, the county's emergency management director. The exact location of those sirens also has not been determined.
Much of Auglaize County's grant money for this year was used to buy automatic electronic defibrilators for police cars. The portable devices can be used to restart a stopped heart. The county bought 36 of them to put in law enforcement cruisers, because officers usually are the first ones at an emergency scene, Mallory said.
Anti-terrorism task forces of local emergency officials in each county make the decisions on how each county's grant money is spent.
Both counties have upgraded siren coverage the past couple of years through state grants that paid for about half of the costs of the new equipment. Cities, villages and townships picked up local costs for the siren program.
This time around, there is no local match necessary. The federal grant money is paying the entire cost.