Mystery solved: Traffic Engineering Division reveals reason behind sirens going off around Wichita Falls

Published: Oct. 29, 2019 at 10:40 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Officials with the Wichita Falls Traffic Engineering Division said people can rest easy now that they have found what they have told is the reason for emergency sirens mysteriously going off around town.

Director of the Transportation Department John Burrus said, “I can assure everybody that it’s not a zombie apocalypse.”

The City of Wichita Falls Traffic Engineering Division visited with the siren manufacturer’s representative, and it appears that the keypads independently malfunctioned at several local outdoor warning units.

According to the representative, condensation can form inside keypads that “bridge” the connection to activate the unit.

The keypads are located inside the units, but it is not a sealed cabinet.

The siren manufacturer’s representative informed city staff that cold, moist weather like we’ve been seeing has caused similar problems around the country.

The keypad is only used to activate the unit physically on-site, and it has been the city’s policy to keep the keypad connected for an event in which an individual unit must be used by emergency management officials.

Because of this malfunction, the keypads will be disconnected at all individual locations around Wichita Falls.

If emergency management officials need to use an individual unit on-site, the keypad will be reconnected for the time of use only.

Disconnecting a keypad will not impact the city’s ability to activate a single unit or the entire system using traditional methods.

Wichita Falls resident Jessica Pichardo - who heard the sirens go off Monday morning - is glad to hear that the problem is being fixed,"It does give me peace of mind as long as it’s nothing major to be worried about...It just took me off guard. As long as I don’t hear it again, I think I’m good."

If this problem continues, the City of Wichita Falls is asking people who hear it contact the Traffic Engineering Division at 940-761-7640.

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