Are tornado sirens really needed?

Outdoor weather warning systems

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - With the threat of more severe weather, there is the rising question about the need for tornado sirens?

If you ask EMA Director Jim Coker he would tell you tornado sirens are another tool in the tool box to get people to notice that a tornado is threatening. But is it the best warning system out there? Coker has his doubts.

In Jefferson County we have a total of 254 sirens. That’s the largest system of sirens across Alabama.

Some will need maintenance. That costs Jefferson County about $100,000 a year. It cost the county $536,000 to replace 36 sirens a number of years ago. A lot of that money comes from federal funds.

Coker said sirens are an out door warning system. A system that no one should rely on to get word of severe weather. Is it time to get rid of the sirens?

"A lot of counties have already done that across Alabama. That’s a long-term discussion with all of our elected officials. I think people still want the sirens. The siren is an outdoor warning device; it’s not going to penetrate your house or car very well. We don’t want you to have your life depending on older technology, " Coker said.

Coker expects to see a serious conversation with elected leaders about possibly moving away from sirens sometimes in the future.

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