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tunneltrain96
 
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Madison County KY Siren Replacement & General History

Sat Oct 29, 2022 8:54 pm

Hey there,

As someone who's been trying to film a siren in Madison County, Kentucky, I now realize that I'm probably working against and unknown time limit to film some sirens there.

I've tried filming at the same location 3 times now, which is the Whelen WPS-2804 right next to the Emergency Management and EMS headquarters a few minutes away from downtown Richmond.

This past time that I've tried to film, I saw something that caught my eye.

I was on my way to get some lunch while I passed by an ASC T-128 on Duncannon Lane. This siren is not able to be seen on Google street view yet, but I do have a photo to show that it exists.
Image

After I got back to Fayette county, I did some research and turns out that Madison county will be replacing their system of Whelens within the next few years. As one of the main directors from the emergency management said, "It's newer equipment, so everything is going to be fresh. It's putting us in a great spot for a post-CSEPP world and providing the same footprint of coverage that we have today."

The article was published in June of 2022, so it is recent enough to be considered true.

For some background info on Madison county's sirens:

It appears they've had warning sirens since the late 80s or early 90s, since they occasionally get severe weather, plus Madison county houses the Bluegrass Army Depot, which is part of the CSEPP program.

The original system comprised EOWS-612s, with an unknown amount of sirens and is also unknown what tones they had.

In the late 90s or early 2000s, they replaced all but 4 612s (they now sit inactive surrounding the Army Depot right next to the newer sirens) with FS Mod 5012s. It is also unknown how many there were, or what tones they had, but my guess is that it was very similar to what they use today (West. chimes and a voice message for tests). These sirens can now only be seen from older images of Google street view, seeing as they were replaced by the Whelen equipment around 2007-09.

Now we reach the present, where the main system comprises 90 whelen sirens. Most of the ones in and around Richmond are 2804s, with the rest being 2806s. They say they will reduce the number of total sirens from 90 to around 75-80 as they'll be much louder and have taller poles to reach a further distance.

The question I'd like to ask you all here in this forum, is the Madison county emergency management making a good decision here, seeing as they said it will cost $3 mil. total to replace all the sirens? There are pros and cons to both the new T-128s and Whelens, but we can only wait and see if they are as effective as they say.
Electronic siren guy from the Horse Capital (aka Fayette CO.)

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Re: Madison County KY Siren Replacement & General History

Sun Oct 30, 2022 3:08 am

No. I don't see a reason for them to already remove and replace the Whelen WPS-2900s as it has only been a little over a decade since they were put into place. To add-on, I'm firm on believing that voice-messages are an essential need, especially in CSEPP sites. I know that the Umatilla Depot retro-fitted each Whelen 2800 and MOD6048 siren to give bilingual instructions (English & Spanish) on what to do in the event of an emergency, and whenever the system was being tested. What's also a great added bonus is the chimes tone. This is what "outperforms" mechanical sirens on test days.

Although there are downsides to the change, there are a few upsides. The current ones I could think of were :

1) T-128s would have far better coverage than the current system
2) Sirens could be retained after CSEPP has concluded operations (Tooele, UT is a great example)
3) Since T-128s do not have membrane-keypads, this would prevent ghost-activations becoming an issue
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Re: Madison County KY Siren Replacement & General History

Sun Nov 06, 2022 7:18 pm

I've lived in Madison County my entire life, so I figured that I would throw in my two cents on this topic.

Over the time that I've lived here, I've often gone and listened for the sirens to activate for whatever warning or test was occurring. As time has progressed, it has become a reoccurring issue (and growing issue!) that the sirens currently in place, part of the Whelen Mass Notification System, frequently have sirens that do NOT activate for whatever situation is occurring.

I have witnessed this many times this year, especially when activations were common during severe weather season.

Furthermore, it has been a major issue that voice messages CAN NOT even be heard sometimes. This is due to multiple issues; the volume of the voice not being loud enough, poles not being tall enough to get past obstructions, poor placement, and infrequent siren operability.

This siren upgrade is going to help alleviate many of these issues around here. This county has always been savvy in areas like this. I work with ARES and the NWS through SKYWARN and amateur radio, and it has been noted many times that we are one of the most prepared counties in the state for emergency response, mostly due to the funding we get from CSEPP.

However, since CSEPP is on its path to ending quite soon, these Whelens, and the mass notification system that is unreliable (around here at least), have shown that the EMA has some warrant to upgrade the current system, and evolve into a post-CSEPP environment.

The sirens around here were initially for CSEPP, especially when the program began around the mid-1980s, and funneled into the BGAD to begin the program.

I will do my best to respond if anyone has questions about the history of sirens around here.

Edit: I attached an image of my local WPS-2804 next to a new ASC T-128.
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IMG_3348.JPG (3.58 MiB) Viewed 245 times

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tunneltrain96
 
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Re: Madison County KY Siren Replacement & General History

Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:32 am

wx_pyzik wrote:
Sun Nov 06, 2022 7:18 pm
As time has progressed, it has become a reoccurring issue (and growing issue!) that the sirens currently in place, part of the Whelen Mass Notification System, frequently have sirens that do NOT activate for whatever situation is occurring.

I have witnessed this many times this year, especially when activations were common during severe weather season.
I can see why I have failed so many times to film a successful test. I guess if they've been this unreliable then they probably need an upgrade. However, it still seems kind of odd since the sirens are less than 20 years old, but Madison County's last system of mods didn't even really last 10 years. The fact that they aren't sounding during actual dangerous events is also concerning.
wx_pyzik wrote:
Sun Nov 06, 2022 7:18 pm
Furthermore, it has been a major issue that voice messages CAN NOT even be heard sometimes. This is due to multiple issues; the volume of the voice not being loud enough, poles not being tall enough to get past obstructions, poor placement, and infrequent siren operability.
Voice messages on sirens can always be tricky to hear. Especially if the siren chosen by the county happens to have a smaller reach than a larger version of it. Since Madison county only comprises of 2804s and 2806s, it makes sense. Here in Lexington, where we have MOD 5020s and 4016s, it isn't much different. Even though they say they're meant as outdoor warning sirens, a lot of the time you can barely hear them outdoors at all!

I also have a question, do you know if they've started using the T-128s in tests yet, or have they been dual-testing them with the Whelens so far?
Electronic siren guy from the Horse Capital (aka Fayette CO.)

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Re: Madison County KY Siren Replacement & General History

Mon Nov 07, 2022 2:40 pm

I have not even heard the weekly test in a while. I'm not sure if this is me not paying attention enough, or they're just not sounding it on some sirens. I believe they are just doing the Whelens for now though, as I probably would have heard the T-128s. Often I can barely just make out the WPS 2804 down the road from my room on a good day.
Last edited by wx_pyzik on Mon Nov 07, 2022 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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