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City replaces sirens
50-year-old sirens replaced to accommodate development, technology
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Workers from Emergency Communication Systems install a new emergency siren near the Merit Center May 20. - photo by Marissa Weiher

MONROE — A half of a century after being installed, the city’s tornado sirens are being replaced to accommodate for new development and to incorporate technological updates adapted for emergency systems in recent decades.

Those in use over the decades were commonly referred to as air raid sirens. Replacements began May 20 with others taking place within the week. One siren was added north of Wisconsin 11 to cover areas which were not developed when the originals were installed, like the North Industrial Park. 

Monroe Fire Chief Dan Smits said a new siren will also be in place at the department’s MERIT Center training facility along the edge of the industrial park to enhance coverage in the northeast areas.

Original sirens were standing at Northside Elementary School, by the Blue Ox Restaurant and at the south end of 4th Avenue. 

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A tornado siren near the Blue Ox Restaurant is 50 years old and will be replaced by a new one. The siren is one of three being replaced by the city. - photo by Marissa Weiher

In a release sent by Smits, he reminded all members of the public that the warning sirens are primarily intended to warn individuals who are outside during inclement weather to find shelter. They may be heard by residents indoors, but that is not their intended use.

Sirens are activated if a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service. They are part of an effort by Smits and Tanna McKeon, Green County Emergency Management director, to increase the number of trained storm spotters to watch for indications of a tornado. 

One step remains in the plan. Smits said they still need to install specialized software to aid in monitoring the conditions of the sirens and activate them from multiple locations, an update in the capabilities of sirens from their predecessors. 

Monroe Common Council approved the purchase of the warning sirens and related materials for roughly $51,000 from the fire department’s capital bond.