Early Sunday (April 27) afternoon Benton County residents were alerted that three of their tornado sirens were not working.
Deputy fire chief Kevin Boydston said those are just three of sixteen and that people in the area should not worry. He said the sirens were made to overlap each other with a 1-2 mile radius on each siren.
“The intent is to give immediate warning to those that are outside who are unprotected to seek shelter and seek information,” Boydston said.
One malfunctioning siren is located on the north side of Bentonville, one is on the east side and one is in the downtown area.
He said the sirens are useful, but most people rely on their phones and televisions for information.
“Forty years ago, without the Doppler radar, and things of that nature it was up to spotters to notify communities and communities set off the sirens, and it was cutting it pretty close,” Boydston said.
Boydston said that sirens shouldn’t be the only outlet people use to get information. He urged locals to sign up to the BC Alert System.
Bentonville local Kevin Gray said having tornado sirens down didn’t concern him.
“I get my local weather from tweets or texts so with all the technology you’re less likely to use the sirens or need the sirens,” Gray said, “it’s a lot easier to put your phone next to your head and go to sleep and wait for that announcement.”
Boydston said the sirens are still a very dependable source, but they do get worn down by all the weather.
“These sirens are exposed to the elements 365 days a year,” he said, “they sit up on top of buildings or on top of poles, they catch a lot of lightening strikes, they suffer through a lot of freezing rain, wind storms and things of that nature.”
He said two of the sirens that are malfunctioning will be looked at by technicians as soon as possible. The third siren was purposefully disconnected because it is being moved. He said it was located near Bentonville City Hall, but he is not sure where the siren’s new location will be.