COLUMBUS - Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security (FCEM&HS) is responsible for the operation of the Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System and as part of that responsibility routinely evaluates our operating policies and procedures. Traditionally, FCEM&HS activates the sirens county-wide when the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a Tornado Warning for any portion of Franklin County. FCEM&HS recently compared the system’s current policies and procedures with a variety of best practices developed by the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) and other Emergency Management Agencies (EMA’s) throughout the country.
Along with enhanced weather forecasting technology, we took into consideration that in 2007 NWS began issuing weather warnings based upon polygons. This change was initiated to more accurately reflect local conditions or the likelihood of severe weather in a more specific location.
After careful evaluation, FCEM&HS has altered the current policies and procedures and will now activate the Outdoor Warning Siren System by zones. The policy will divide the county into four warning zones (NW, NE, SW and SE) based upon the county-wide street grid (Broad/High). These four zones will allow the existing system the flexibility to more closely align siren activations with warning polygons issued by NWS or the actual location of tornadic activity in Franklin County.
“Our desire is to accurately warn and inform the public”, said Jeffrey J. Young, Director of Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security. “By dividing the county into four zones, this will reduce the likelihood of sirens operating (sounding) in areas of the county that are not within the actual warning area.”
FCEM&HS will implement the new siren activation policy as part of Ohio’s Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week March 18-24, 2018. The week provides a timely reminder that with the arrival of spring comes an increased opportunity for severe weather. Hazardous conditions can occur anytime and anywhere without advance notice. The time to prepare is before it happens.