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Warning system to be updated

September 04, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Cold War-era early-warning system in Franklin County, Pa., will be updated by the end of the year to give emergency personnel and citizens notice in times of natural or man-made disasters.

Director of Emergency Services Jerry Flasher said parts of the existing early warning system were installed in the 1950s and not much has been done to it since the 1960s.

"Since that time, the systems have become antiquated in terms of their technology," Flasher said.

On Thursday the County Commission opened two bids for the purchase and installation of 20 early-warning monitors at the fire departments and companies around the county. Kuhn's Radio Communications of Pleasant Hall, Pa., bid $38,985 and Sound Communications of Chambersburg bid $57,898.

Flasher said the project was budgeted at $40,000. The commissioners are scheduled to award or reject the bids next week.

"This is the main part of the expenditure," said Commissioner G. Warren Elliott..

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According to Flasher, the monitors will be linked to the National Weather Service and the federal, Pennsylvania and county emergency management agencies. He said the monitors, which activate sirens at firehouses, will be installed by the end of the year.

Once installed, the monitors will be able set off the sirens to warn people about "everything from a local emergency - a fire or building collapse ... right up to a national emergency," Flasher said.

The sirens will give off different signals depending on the type of emergency, Flasher said.

For example, a different signal would be given for a tornado warning than for a hazardous materials incident.

The new monitors will be compatible with the Emergency Alerting System, which replaced the old Emergency Broadcasting System in 1996, according to Flasher.

"I've already met with municipalities where there are sirens other than the ones at the fire stations," Flasher said.

Greencastle, State Line and Upper Strasburg, Pa., are some of the communities in the county that have early warning sirens that may be updated in the future, according to Flasher.

He said there will also be a program to educate county residents about the new system.

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