Tornado/Emergency Alert Sirens   Public Awareness - Tornado/Emergency Alert Sirens

Tornado/Emergency Alert Sirens
The City of Fort Smith maintains 29 Emergency Alert Sirens, usually called Tornado Sirens, strategically located throughout the city proper. The primary reason for the existence of these sirens is to alert any citizen that is outside a building of a potential situation, so that they may seek shelter and additional information via radio, televised or other communication. Due to the potential for severe weather in this area these sirens are primarily used for alerting the city’s citizens to the imminent approach of a tornado. The emergency alert sirens can produce two separate tones, a long solid wail tone, which is utilized for the "Tornado Warning" and a wavering tone that can be used for any other large scale emergency situation. The City of Fort Smith’s primary emergency response dispatch center, located in the Fort Smith Police Department, is tasked with the activation of these sirens. It is the policy of the Fort Smith Police Department to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the City’s Tornado Warning Sirens are activated when a tornado is believed to be in or approaching the City of Fort Smith. Activation of the sirens will take place upon authorization of an on duty Police Supervisor after any one of the following conditions is met:

  1. Notification by the National Weather Service or other appropriate Emergency Management entity that a tornado is or is likely to be approaching the City of Fort Smith.
  2. Notification received by a Fort Smith Police Officer in the field of the presence of a tornado.
  3. Information received from a “weather spotter” that a tornado is approaching the City of Fort Smith.
  4. Information received from a television broadcast or a weather channel that a tornado is approaching the City of Fort Smith


The sirens are equipped with a receiver and are activated via radio wave signals. The City of Fort Smith is not responsible for the activation of sirens in surrounding cities.

The Emergency Alert/Tornado Sirens are connected and operated through a computer system and have redundant power backup systems. The computerized control system polls each siren daily searching for problems. Daily polling further reinforces the reliability of the system. Conditions such as Commercial Power Failure, Low Battery and Intrusion are reported in real time. The sirens are tested at noon on the second Tuesday of each month, weather permitting. If a test is not made on that day the test will be attempted on the following day. If weather is still an issue an internal test will be conducted. Once a quarter the "Emergency" tone is tested instead of the "Tornado" tone.

Again, the primary reason for the existence of these sirens is to alert persons that are outside and in the open of a potentially dangerous situation, so that they may seek shelter indoors and obtain additional information concerning the specifics of the situation. Persons that are already inside a building during a situation may or may not hear the sirens when they are activated.


Tornado Safe Rooms
The Fort Smith Public School District owns and maintains a number of Tornado Safe Rooms built on public school properties throughout the city. These Safe Rooms were built on school properties primarily for the safety and protection of the school children and the faculty in the event of a tornado during normal school hours. As a courtesy to the citizens of the City of Fort Smith the Fort Smith Public School District made a decision to allow the use of these shelters by the citizens, or passersby caught unaware and without suitable shelter, when school is not in session. The Fort Smith Public School District installed a system that will automatically open a door to the shelters utilizing the radio signal transmitted upon activation of the Emergency Alert Sirens. The Fort Smith Public School District owns, maintains and sets rules and guidelines for the use of these safe rooms. You may seek additional information concerning these safe rooms at the Fort Smith Public School District’s web site at www.fortsmithschools.org.

The City of Fort Smith and the Fort Smith Police Department have no authority over, nor ownership of these safe rooms.