Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (April 5, 2021) – Due to technological advancements, new information on effectiveness and high costs of maintenance of tornado sirens, the City of Sturgeon Bay will no longer maintain its tornado sirens and they will be removed.
Sturgeon Bay Fire Department has carefully weighed the costs, advantages and disadvantages of maintaining the six tornado sirens that were erected throughout Sturgeon Bay in 1997.
The decision was difficult, but conclusive: The benefit of maintaining the sirens does not outweigh the costs and drawbacks of the tornado sirens.
In May of 2021, Sturgeon Bay will join other municipalities including Duluth, GA; Kalamazoo, MI; Chattanooga, TN; Longmont, CO in removal of outdated tornado siren emergency alerts.
The tornado sirens are funded through taxpayer money. Annual maintenance cost of the sirens is approximately $3,000-4,000. The sirens have a 25-year lifecycle and will need to be replaced in 2022 for an estimated cost of $25,000+ each.
According to Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Dietman “We are nostalgic for the sound of the siren test at 12 noon on the first of every month, but we are optimistic about the opportunity to free up resources to support our city in other ways by eliminating obsolete equipment.”
The original purpose of the sirens was to alert people outside to move to a safe indoor location. The sirens were never intended to be heard indoors or wake people from sleeping. In fact, growing evidence suggests that tornado sirens can actually add to confusion during an emergency weather situation. Because the sirens are used so seldomly – the most recent tornado that touched ground near Sturgeon Bay was a Level 2 tornado at Sand Bay in 1985 – most people are not familiar with what the sound means. Instead of seeking shelter, human nature leads us to seek more information before taking action, when action is required.
Tornado forecasting technology has improved dramatically over the last three decades with the availability of Doppler weather radar. Additionally, technological advances over the last 25 years have made it possible for anyone to get severe weather notifications that provide details and action steps needed to save lives. Some options include:
- “Severe weather alerts” on your smartphone or smart speaker
- Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Weather Radio
- Watch news media coverage and pay attention to the Federal Communications Commission Emergency Alert System on radio and TV broadcasts
- Desktop applications
- Mobile applications
Chief Dietman adds, “The safety of our community is our number one priority. The tornado sirens ultimately give people a false sense of security. Instead of relying on an antiquated system, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the multitude of better suited ways to get emergency weather alerts and information.”
The Sturgeon Bay tornado sirens will be removed in the spring of 2021 and will not be replaced. Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 12-16, 2021. Make sure you have a plan to keep yourself and your family safe. Visit www.ready.gov/tornadoes for information on tornadoes, developing a plan and what to do in the event of a tornado.
About the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department
The Sturgeon Bay Fire Department’s mission is to protect life and property from fire, medical, and environmental emergencies for our community, through public education, code management, and incident response. The Fire Department operates out of two stations, one on the east side of Sturgeon Bay and one on the west side. Each station is staffed with a minimum of two firefighters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Department consists of fourteen career people: Fire Chief Tim Dietman, Assistant Fire Chief Kalin Montevideo, 1 part time Fire Inspector, 3 Lieutenants, 9 Firefighters; and 15 part-time firefighters. Learn more at www.strugeonbaywi.org.