Mayor's office: Technology, human errors blamed for silent tornado sirens

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Late on the afternoon of March 4, Mayor Greg Fischer's office released a statement regarding a MetroSafe report which looked into why warning sirens remained silent during a tornado warning.

"Technology, human errors led to siren failure", Mayor's statement reads.

On Feb. 28, a tornado warning was issued around 4:31 a.m. The National Weather Service tracked an EF-1 twister, which moved from Clark County, Indiana to Jefferson County, Kentucky. Meanwhile, the sirens remained silent.

Mayor Greg Fischer asked Doug Hamilton, the MetroSafe executive director, to turn in a report about what happened by March 4. After reviewing the report, it stated the problem was MetroSafe's encoders, which did not pick up the warning. The report places part of the blame on two supervisors who did not manually sound the sirens.

"You're right. We made a mistake and the Mayor's style is {to} admit the mistake, find out what went wrong and correct it, and that's what we've done this week," said Chris Poynter, a spokesperson for mayor Fischer.

A couple of actions have already been taken to improve the alert system. According to the statement, the city has reinstalled and tested two emergency alert system encoders and replaced the roof antennae for the encoders. Supervisors have installed emergency email and notification systems on their phones and emails. People are being retrained. The statement indicates disciplinary action against the supervisors is under review.

In his statement, the Mayor wrote, "MetroSafe is one of the most advanced emergency centers in the country and has many dedicated workers and supervisors, but sometimes mistakes are made." He continued, "I am confident that, with the improvements made this week, our city should never again experience a siren failure."

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