City of Gatlinburg successfully tests siren system Wednesday

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The City of Gatlinburg announced Monday it would be testing the Outdoor Warning Siren system at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14, for Gatlinburg and the immediate adjacent Sevier County areas.

"This notification system enhances notifications to the public, so whether you are a visitor or a resident, there are so many layers of communication it's going to be hard to not get an emergency notification in this area," city official Marci Claude said Wednesday.

According to a release from the city, the test activated a total of 14 warning sirens, including nine new sirens that were recently installed and five that were previously installed in phase one of the project. The test followed months of planning and installation. The city said all new sirens were operational and ready to use.

After the test, officials said all sirens functioned appropriately when they were activated from the Gatlinburg Fire Department control point. They were then activated through the IPAWS network, where they also functioned correctly. Officials said they were in talks with the siren manufacturer of the outdoor sirens to determine if they could have a synchronization of the digital voice message.

Sevier County EMA also performed a test of both the CodeRed and IPAWS system for the Gatlinburg area during the siren test. The city said residents should expect to receive cellphone calls and messages alerting them to the system test.

Officials said the CodeRed and IPAWS tests were successful Wednesday.

"It means a whole lot if you got a warning system because last time we had nothing but the wind and the fire as a warning system," Jottie Hand, who lost a home in the fire, told Local 8 News Wednesday.

"Well, it made us stop and wonder, 'Is there some kind of threat here?' but it was definitely something that made you aware," one visitor to the area said. "So to know they've taken the precaution, it gives us a sense of security and makes us feel much safer."

According to the city, residents should immediately take cover and tune into local radio and television stations if they hear the sirens go off in an actual emergency. Officials said residents should not call 911 or local emergency crews for information during these times. The sirens work for varying emergency situations to warn residents of any situations that could be life-threatening.

Folks in the area who want to sign up for CodeRed notifications should click here.