City of Branson upgrades outdoor warning sirens throughout town

BRANSON, MO. -- The City of Branson has replaced several of its decades-old outdoor warning sirens.

“Out with the old, in with the new," Fire Chief Ted Martin said.

This week, crews replaced four outdoor warning sirens throughout town.

“[We are] relocating a couple of sirens. That will improve our coverage in the city," Chief Martin said.

Chief Martin says some of the old sirens, like the one that used to be located along Fall Creek Road, are more than 30 years old.

"It's almost a Cold War-Era type wind-up siren. The new sirens will be modern. We will be able to monitor those sirens better electronically and watch the maintenance levels," Chief Martin said.

Three of the sirens cost $70,000 total. The fourth was free to the city.

"Using our public safety tax, a promise back to our voters, on that system, plus using the resources of a state emergency management grant," Chief Martin said.

The sirens are intended to warn people who are outdoors. That's why Chief Martin says it's important for people to have other ways to get warnings when they're inside.

"Situational awareness through our broadcast meteorologists like on the television station, weather radios, smart phones, reliable social media resources," Chief Martin said.

However, the sirens aren't only used for tornado threats.

"[We can use them for] a hazardous materials incident, for flooding along Lake Taneycomo. That's why we use that phrase, when you hear the outdoor warning sirens, seek shelter and seek information," Chief Martin said.

He says people may notice that the new sirens are louder.

"The big difference will be an audible tone difference. It will be a mechanical, rotational outdoor warning siren," Chief Martin said.

While the hope is for no more emergencies or severe weather like Branson has seen in the past, Chief Martin knows threats will come and they want to be prepared.

"We are trying to work towards a strategic plan to improve our system across the city of Branson," Chief Martin said.

Installation of the sirens was delayed about a month and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project should be completed this week, then the sirens will be tested.