Competing Interests Prompt Culver Emergency Siren Debate

culver town hall

The Town of Culver has some new plans for operating its emergency alert sirens.

During Tuesday night’s Culver Town Council meeting, a debate re-emerged over the use of emergency sirens to alert the community to tornadoes, fire calls, and other testing, but the way in which those sirens are employed has created competing interests.

The issue initially surfaced several weeks ago when Culver Fire Chief Terry Wakefield said some of the sirens were in need of repair.

“They have a lot of moving parts and if they don’t move, it’s just like parking an old car and sitting it there if you start it back up,” says Wakefield. “And that’s what we’re paying for right now, it’s because they weren’t being used at all.”

Repairing the sirens is expected to cost thousands to Culver, but several residents have come forward since that time requesting that the alarms simply not be fixed or that their use be limited once they are put back into operation.

About eight years ago, the Culver Town Council made a decision to cease using some of the sirens due to noise complaints over testing each day at noon and fire calls. According to previous discussion, Culver has a north and south siren and a center siren next to the Town Hall.

Firefighters volunteering within the community rely on them for notification of a possible fire if they are not within earshot of their communications radios. Culver typically receives between 70 and 80 fire calls per year. Add to that tornadoes and periodic testing and some council members thought the use was excessive.

Town Council President Ginny Bess Munroe says they’re now having problems with where their service providers live in the community.

“That is an issue,” says Munroe. “It goes back to affordable housing because we don’t have a lot of employees or volunteers for these services living here. Even the EMS we don’t have a lot of volunteers living in Culver anymore. So it’s a whole different scenario that it was 10 years ago.”

The Culver Town Council spent a good chunk of time Tuesday night debating how best to employ the sirens.

Ultimately, the Town Council voted to repair the sirens, have all three sound for the noon whistle for testing each day and have the center siren at the town hall sounded for fire calls. Council members Tammy Shaffer and Munroe voted against the proposal.