The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 25, 2014

Noisy Friday caused by siren malfunction

City staff hoping to fix problem quickly

MANKATO — That woo-hoo, woo-hoo sound heard around Mankato Friday morning was not an invasion led by English police cars and ambulances.

It was a malfunction in the Mankato emergency siren system that prompted several calls from residents to police, city offices and area media. The city and the siren's vendors were working to fix the problem Friday morning so it doesn't happen again.

"It appears there were several activations around town," said Pam Hermanson, deputy director for emergency services. "At this point we're treating it as a malfunction.

She also said the city wants the problem fixed as soon as possible because people need to rely on the system, especially this time of year.

"It is coming up on tornado season so there are people who thought it was an emergency," Hermanson said.

Mike Maurer, Blue Earth County chief deputy and emergency management director, said it was a malfunction that caused the sirens to go off in Mankato. Tornado alerts, which have a different sound, are activated by dispatchers and that isn't how the sirens turned on, he said.

Also, if they are turned on in dispatch, the sirens in all the cities in the county are triggered. The sirens didn't go off in other cities, Maurer said.

A third thing that points to the malfunction is the sound the sirens were making, he added. The sound, which was similar to the sirens on London police cars and ambulances, is not one of the sounds used here. There is only the tornado warning and an air raid warning. Everyone is familiar with the tornado warning and the air raid warning sounds similar to the air raid warnings in World War II movies, Maurer said.

"These sirens are designed to make multiple sounds because they are used all over the world," he said. "This was what we call the high-low sound, which we don't use. That's why we knew it was a malfunction."

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