JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County EMA has announced a new system to better alert people in the direct path of a tornado. Officials believe it has the potential to save more lives.
"So this is the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center," says Chris Tate, emergency management officer at Jefferson County EMA.
Tate is excited about the new Polygon-based activation system.
"We will be able to sound our outdoor warning sirens based on the warning polygons that are issued by the National Weather Service," says Tate.
So when there's a tornado warning for Jefferson County, instead of all 254 sirens in the county going off at once, just the sirens in the polygon area, meaning those in the direct path of the tornado, will sound off.
"We are eliminating the false alarms that most of these folks are getting, which causes complacency. And we don't want complacency when it comes to a life-threatening event such as a tornado," says Tate.
Locals seem happy and excited about the new system.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. They'll know to react quicker and then there won't be confusion of, like, sitting around watching TV, and it's not coming toward us, it's going to hit Ensley and not downtown Birmingham," says Michael Letson.
"So I think it's a way to save many lives and if you know it is specifically targeted to your area, then you're more likely to react and take it more seriously," says Kendra Johnson.
Jefferson County EMA will be testing the new system the last week of the month on Tuesday through Thursday between 9 and 11 a.m. in different regions of the county. Officials ask that you send them a message on their Facebook page when you hear it and tell them where you live, just so they can make sure everyone can hear the sirens.