JASPER, Tenn. — More and more small towns are turning to decades-old technology to warn residents during emergencies.
Several years ago, officials in South Pittsburg, Tenn., began using that city's old, earsplitting siren during severe weather events. And, since early January, South Pittsburg has used it in case of fires, too.
Now Jasper fire Chief Chris Rector has asked the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen to allow him to begin testing that city's old siren for use in similar situations.
Jasper's siren hasn't been tested in more than a year, Rector said, and he will have to examine it for any obvious problems and "get it back up and going again" before a test is attempted.
Mayor Paul Evans said he has had phone calls from residents asking if the siren still works and whether the town had considered using it again.
"It's something that the city of South Pittsburg voted to start using their alarm for everything -- fire and weather -- but it's something we could use just in tornado warnings and other severe weather," Evans said.
Jasper Alderman Paul West, who is also a police officer in South Pittsburg, said there has been "some uproar" and "confusion" in that city since it started using the siren for fires.
"Of course, there won't be with this one [in Jasper] if we're just blowing it for weather," he said.
West recommended the fire department test the siren once a month on the same day and at the same time to ensure it's always working properly.
"The electrical part of [the siren] was completely rebuilt about 10 years ago, but I don't know what it's like now," he said. "It's been up there so long."
Alderman Steve Looney stressed the importance of advertising the tests so residents will know what is happening whenever they begin.
"I really think [the test] needs to be published so everybody will know, and it needs to be at the same time," he said. "Then, everybody gets used to it."
Officials plan to test the siren on the first Monday of each month about 6 p.m. local time.
The tests are expected to begin in March unless major repairs to the siren are required.