Code Red: What happened to the warning sirens in Kyle?

Volunteer firefighters would sound the warning sirens every day at noon, both as a test and to let folks know the time. When there was a fire, the siren let the firefighters know to come to the station. (Photo by David White)

by KIM HILSENBECK

A reader recently asked us to find out what happened to the old warning sirens around Kyle.

“What do the residents of Kyle have in the form of an early warning system?” asked Joey Soto. “Surely we will not rely on text and mass e-mails for warning?”

But those old sirens, according to Kyle Fire Department Chief Glenn Whitaker, were installed to help the volunteer fire department.

“They could have been used to warn people about a tornado,” Whitaker said, “but I can’t recall having more than one tornado hit Kyle back when we used the sirens.”

Those sirens – there were two of them – rang out every day at high noon. Whitaker remembered them even from his childhood when his father was a firefighter in Kyle.

“When we blew the horn a lot,” Whitaker recalled, “townspeople would drive around looking for the fire. Sometimes they would cause traffic problems making it hard for the firefighters to get there.”

That must have been before the invention of cable TV.

Time marched on and so did technology.

Whitaker said the Kyle Fire Department got its first Motorola pagers in about 1976. Eventually, the old sirens fell into disrepair and were no longer the primary method of rounding up the volunteers.

By the mid 1980s, Whitaker said, the sirens were silenced. It was the end of an era.

Or as Whitaker put it, “History that stopped.”

But he was OK with it.

Twenty years later, Kyle implemented the Code Red system, according to Kyle spokesperson Jerry Hendrix.

Code Red is an alert system based on internet technology that calls the numbers in the city’s utility customer database in the event of an emergency or to disseminate information on a broad scale.

“The system’s primary purpose is to notify residents of emergencies,” said Hendrix, “although we have used it for public notifications regarding watering restrictions, Independence Day fireworks notices, and other important communications.”

Kyle citizens with a utility account can access the Code Red system to enter other phone numbers should they want to be notified on their cell phones or at work.

So Mr. Soto, if you live inside Kyle and have a utility account, rest in the knowledge that you will be warned about emergencies and watering restrictions.

For everyone else, check your cable TV.

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