Rogers to Review Tornado Siren Policy
Benton County leaders ask questions after what they are calling a system failure. Tornado sirens did not go off in Rogers Saturday night when an EF-1 tornado touched down.
“It does have all of us scratching our heads in frustration,” said Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins.
5NEWS asked why the sirens did not go off. “Just because the weather warning wasn’t issued,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins says the city sets off the tornado sirens based on information from the National Weather Service.
“Once we see a tornado warning and we see it’s gonna affect the city of Rogers or has the potential to, we sound the sirens,” said Jenkins.
The NWS told 5NEWS tornadoes like Saturday’s are difficult to spot.
The equipment used to sound the tornado sirens in Rogers is at the Rogers Police Department. City employees are required to push different buttons before the sirens will sound.
Benton County Director of Emergency Management Robert McGowen says each city is responsible for sounding its own sirens. “They make the decision when they are going to sound those themselves based on weather conditions that are affecting their area,” said McGowen.
Emergency management officials stay in touch with each city.
“Saturday night we had storm spotters out but we did not have any that saw this storm,” said McGowen.
In Rogers dispatchers are trained to sound the sirens.
“We were ready,” said Jenkins. “We were prepared. We could have sounded the sirens had we had any initiative to do so from the weather service.”
Jenkins says dispatchers do not need approval from him, the police chief, or the mayor to set off the tornado sirens. “It’s not a very complex decision and that’s designed to be that way because we may only have minutes worth of warning,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins says they plan to review the current tornado policy.