Sirens across Northwest suburbs triggered by mistake

  • Residents across the Northwest suburbs heard sirens triggered inadvertently Thursday afternoon as part of ongoing tests to figure out why some didn't go off as intended Sunday night.

    Residents across the Northwest suburbs heard sirens triggered inadvertently Thursday afternoon as part of ongoing tests to figure out why some didn't go off as intended Sunday night. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2014

  • Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said the failure of a siren alert system Thursday -- the second time in less than a week -- was "unacceptable."

    Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said the failure of a siren alert system Thursday -- the second time in less than a week -- was "unacceptable." Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 6/24/2021 5:50 PM

Tornado sirens that sounded across the Northwest suburbs after 1 p.m. Thursday were the result of a malfunction during tests, and despite storms in the area, there was no weather emergency, municipal officials said.

Northwest Central Dispatch System was conducting the tests, which inadvertently set off sirens in towns like Hoffman Estates on the west to Mount Prospect on the east, the officials said. Officials in both towns, and others in-between including Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows, quickly posted to their municipal Facebook pages to reassure worried residents.

 

John Ferraro, executive director of the Arlington Heights-based dispatch system, said the inadvertent sirens were related to the agency's ongoing internal review launched after the devices didn't sound in Elk Grove Village and parts of Mount Prospect when activated late Sunday night, despite tornado warnings in the area.

Some of the 11 Northwest suburban communities served by the dispatch agency labeled Thursday's siren sounds a "malfunction" or "error." Ferraro was reserving judgment until a technician could arrive to the Arlington Heights dispatch center to perform diagnostic tests on the siren controller.

"I'm hesitant to say it was because of the testing, because we never hit send," he said. "We didn't do what the normal procedure is to activate sirens."

The siren activation led Elk Grove Village officials to put out their second news release in as many days that called for an explanation from Northwest Central.

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"To have system failures twice in less than one week is unacceptable because residents are looking to us for guidance, information and advice on how to keep themselves safe during weather emergencies. When they do, we need to be right every time," Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said in the release. "We cannot afford to have repeated incidents that shake the confidence in the system among our residents."

Elk Grove officials said the erroneous signal, which took place as inclement weather was approaching the region, led concerned residents to phone village hall.

But, Johnson added, Northwest Central officials "are equally concerned about the errors" and will be working with their member communities to resolve the issues.

Ferraro said sirens are scheduled to sound during regular tests the first Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m.

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