Some Carthage residents may have been surprised to hear storm sirens go off on Thursday instead of their regular noon, Saturday test.
The sirens may have sounded a little different too.
Carthage’s new $176,000 storm siren system got its first test run at 1 p.m. Thursday, with Mayor Mike Harris pushing the button on a computer at the Carthage Fire Station to launch the test.
Eight new sirens, each reaching out in a 7,000-foot circle, replaced 11 older sirens, some dating back to the 1950s while others dated to the 1990s.
Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson said the larger range meant that a smaller number of sirens could reach a larger part of town, leaving fewer gaps in siren coverage.
Each siren rotates on its pole at a rate of three revolutions a minute to cover a circle around them.
Thompson said the new sirens will be more reliable than the old ones, which were starting to show their age.
The system features a silent testing system, in which a computer tests all functions of the sirens without sounding them.
Thompson said the department will continue with the weekly tests every Saturday at noon for now, but will phase those out as time passes.
“The tests tells us 100 percent whether all functions of the siren are working,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to phase out the siren tests so that when the sirens sound, people know there’s an emergency. We’re very confident in this new system.”
Mayor Harris said the city still has the old sirens and will offer those to surrounding communities, which may not have sirens.
City Administrator Tom Short said the city budgeted $180,400 for the sirens, but the actual cost came in at just over $176,000.
In other fire safety news, Thompson said the department should take delivery on its new tanker sometime next week.
The department took a fire engine that was damaged in a vehicle crash in October 2011 and had it rebuilt into 1,500-gallon tanker at a cost of approximately $100,000. The cost was paid by a grant from the Steadley Trust.
The tanker is useful to transport water to fires in areas of the Carthage Fire District outside the city limits that do not have hydrants. It’s a capability that the department didn’t have before, relying on departments such as Carterville, Duenweg and others to provide tanker support at rural fires.