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Sirens repaired, at the ready

Nobody knows for sure what caused it, but a damaged universal power supply that caused weather alert sirens in Mitchell to malfunction has been repaired and the system is expected to work when needed, according to Mitchell Traffic Specialist Dick...

Nobody knows for sure what caused it, but a damaged universal power supply that caused weather alert sirens in Mitchell to malfunction has been repaired and the system is expected to work when needed, according to Mitchell Traffic Specialist Dick Figland.

The sirens, which were successfully tested the first week of May yet failed to activate in the early stages of a tornado warning last weekend, are now fully functional after the replacement of the part.

"It was on the transmitting end," said Figland. "They weren't able to send that activation tone out."

According to Figland, something -- nobody knows exactly what -- caused a malfunction in the universal power supply, which prevented the system from broadcasting the tone.

A new universal power supply was purchased locally the day of the malfunction.

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Another malfunction also was discovered. The siren at Jennewein Park, which was under maintenance at the time of last week's storms, had a circuit board removed by a Sioux Falls company. It was then repaired by the system's manufacturer.

Federal Warning Systems, a company from Illinois, sold the system to the city. Two telephone calls to the company this week were not returned.

Figland said the cause for either malfunction may never be determined. He said other communities that use the same siren system have experienced similar malfunctions.

"I wanted to find out if we were kind of an isolated case with ours not working as much as we want them to," he said. "They do have problems with other stations in South Dakota. ... It doesn't seem to me like there's any particular brand out there that's outperforming the other."

Now that Federal Warning Systems has repaired the system, Figland is confident that all seven of the Mitchell sirens are ready to perform during the next tornado warning.

"We should be back at 100 percent at all seven locations," he said.

Davison County Emergency Manager Jim Montgomery said he plans to speak with Mitchell residents in an attempt to find out exactly which sirens sounded during last weekend's warning.Montgomery said he has heard conflicting reports from residents about the number of sirens that were successfully activated as storms approached. Because the system has no way to track which sirens sound during emergencies, Montgomery said he has to question local residents personally.

"There was a question on two sirens," he said.

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