City is replacing weather sirens
Most of Rosemount's outdoor warning sirens have seen better days.
Seven of the city's 13 sirens are 33 years old and four are 23 years old.
Two of the sirens have been replaced in recent years. One because lightning struck it in 1998 and the other because of a car crash in 2007.
Most of the sirens, which are scattered throughout the city, need to be replaced. Police chief Gary Kalstabakken said funds had been set aside to start replacing a couple sirens a year in 2009. However, the failure of three sirens this spring has made the need more immediate.
To start it all off the city will replace the siren at the corner of County Road 42 and Chippendale later this summer. Kalstabakken said the equipment has been ordered and will take about a month to arrive. The new siren will provide greater coverage which will lead to the elimination of a small siren in Jaycee Park that has had numerous maintenance issue over the past couple of years.
"It eliminates an old siren while maintaining coverage," Kalstabakken said.
Two other sirens have failed and will be removed as well. Those sirens are at the Highway 52 and Highway 55 interchange and on Pine Bend Trail near C.F. Industries. Kalstabakken said those two will not be replaced this summer.
A siren located on Rich Valley Boulevard near 130th will provide coverage for the area affected by the elimination of the Pine Bend siren including Flint Hills Refinery. However, areas east of the interchange siren will not have an outdoor warning system in place until a replacement is installed, possibly next year.
Sirens used to be activated by local police departments but that changed with the opening of the Dakota Communications Center last fall. The switch over has led to additional costs. The current radio frequency used to set the sirens off is now used by the DCC to page fire crews.
To correct the system the city will have to change the frequency used to activate the sirens. Kalstabakken said it will cost approximately $1300 per siren because of the age of the city's sirens. The DCC will cover some of the costs associated with the frequency change, although how much is unknown.
"It's a little more complicated and costly than if the sirens were newer," said Kalstabakken.
The outdoor warning sirens notify the community of severe weather announced by the National Weather Service, Kalstabakken said.
Dakota County's policy regarding its warning system is different in that it alerts people to severe weather instead of just tornado watches and warnings. Kalstabakken said the alert upon severe weather came through all the departments because it can be dangerous and residents should take cover.
Severe weather is classified as storms with winds that could reach more than 58 miles per hour. Kalstabakken said on average the siren system is used 10 to 12 times a year.
The sirens are meant to be heard by people outside. When the sirens go off residents should go inside. Once inside he said they should watch television or listen to the radio to get further weather information.
The cost of the whole project will be $34,000. Kalstabakken said a little more than half of the funds needed will come from the equipment budget. The rest will come from the equipment reserve funds.