Firefighter says he warned MetroSafe sirens weren't sounding

Major Robert Williams
Major Robert Williams
Doug Hamilton
Doug Hamilton

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – In an exclusive interview, a firefighter tells WAVE 3 that he radioed MetroSafe early Feb. 28 to ask if they were going to sound the emergency sirens when Jefferson County was under a tornado warning. According to Major Robert Williams with Pleasure Ridge Park Fire District, the woman who answered said "no."

Many have contacted us upset because there weren't any sirens. Because of the weather, Williams was awake and on standby. He called his family and friends to warn them of the possible tornado around 4:30 a.m., as well as MetroSafe.

"I got on the radio and asked radio if they were going to send out the sirens at that time, and they said no," said Williams.

It is standard procedure to sound the sirens in Jefferson County when there is a tornado warning. Doug Hamilton, the executive director of Metro Emergency Management, says they didn't get the radio signal from the National Weather Service.

"While we rely on technology to tell us many things, we can't depend on it for 100 percent reliability," said Hamilton.

They reinstalled, rebooted, and reprogrammed equipment and have not found anything wrong. Hamilton doesn't know why they didn't get the tornado warning. Hamilton, who has a backup warning at home, also called to ask why they weren't sounding. By the time they checked, he says the warning was canceled.

Hamilton said there were about 20 people working early Monday morning at MetroSafe with TVs in the room broadcasting the tornado warning, but still there weren't any sirens.

"I'm sure more than one of them had to think, 'gee I didn't hear the EAS radio go off,' so to know you can't depend upon it 100 percent of the time," said Hamilton.

Hamilton says they will encourage staff to use their eyes and ears more in training. Still there was Williams radio call.

"I would like to hear that to be able to go because I can't explain why anyone would go, 'no, we're not doing that,'" said Hamilton. "Or was it the question? Was it the answer to the question, 'are you sounding the sirens?' meaning the answer is no."

Hamilton said Williams did the right thing by calling and asking and encourages them to do that in the future. Hamilton is also signing up staff with a Metro phone to receive backup alerts via email.

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