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Indianapolis tornado siren that failed during public safety livestream had been failing for months

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Posted at 11:49 AM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 11:58:23-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It was supposed to be a quick livestream about the statewide tornado drill for Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine and Wayne Township Fire Department Captain Mike Pruitt on Tuesday. But they seemed to find one of the many tornado sirens that aren't working across Marion County.

Pruitt and Perrine had setup at 21st Street and Girls School Road and started livestreaming on Twitter and Facebook right before the statewide tornado drill was supposed to take place at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday.

They started talking about the importance of tornado sirens and severe weather preparedness. When the clock turned 10:15 a.m., the siren at never went off, even though they could hear sirens going off in other parts of the city.

According to documents obtained by Call 6 Investigates, the tornado siren at 21st Street and Girls School Road has been plagued with issues for months.

READ MORE | Will tornado sirens work when you need them most?

The siren system checks in with each siren on average eight times a day to make sure it is working. Any time a siren encounters some sort of issue, it reports back to an error log on the siren system.

Call 6 Investigates obtained those error logs from the siren system from Jan. 1 to March 14.

The first issue with the specific siren at 21st and Girls School Road, siren #170, was reported on Jan. 18 just after 1 p.m., when the siren reported that the last activation for a "quiet test" failed. The error log then shows another error that communications had failed with the main siren system at the county. About three hours later, the communications were restored.

The siren worked without issues for the following 12 days, until Jan. 30, when the error report shows communications failed once again. The report shows communications were restored the following day. Later that day, the communications failed once again and then were restored the following day.

It failed again later that day when the city performed a citywide tornado drill test on Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. 25 minutes after the test, the siren at 21st and Girls School Road reported it's backup battery failed and the last siren activation failed.

The report shows the siren continuously having errors every single day from Feb. 1 to Feb. 24 and then again from March 1 to March 14.

The error report shows a "Battery Pass" on March 8, just after 3 p.m., which means the backup battery was likely replaced by the city's tornado siren vendor, but the siren once again failed during a weekly "quiet test" and all communication was lost with the siren thereafter.

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