Residents may have heard the emergency weather siren, located on top of Corry Contract, 21 Maple Ave., scheduled to go off today at noon.
According to Corry Fire Chief Jim Lathrop, this was a routine test of a new radio-controlled system for the siren.
The last test was conducted in October 2019, and the system failed to activate, Lathrop said. Repairs were made following that test and the routine system check took place again today.
The siren is tested four times a year, and is now activated from the Erie County 911 building, as explained by Lathrop.
In the case of an emergency, the county has the power to both activate the alarm and shut it down.
Before the new radio system, Lathrop said could it could be tripped more easily because it was all done manually. He also said that it could not be shut down until it completed a full cycle of sirens.
Erie County is in direct contact with the National Weather Service, Lathrop said, and in the case of a tornado or severe thunderstorm in the area, they can trigger the alarm.
However, Lathrop says they will not do this until there is some type of confirmation that the tornado has formed and is being picked up by radar equipment.
As first responders, firefighters can also be notified by the county via text message and/or pager, according to Lathrop.
"With our old system, we didn't know until the siren went off that they activated it," Lathrop said.
City of Corry Police Chief Rich Shopene, Mayor David Mitchels, Lathrop and select other city officials have the ability to request that the siren be activated if they ever deem it necessary.
Erie County can set off this alarm in several different ways, Lathrop said. The county building can either trigger a countywide alert or localize the alarm for certain affected areas.
"They can do the whole county in one shot or select few departments at the same time," Lathrop said.
Lathrop said that besides an imminent tornado, a potential chemical accident or leak could be another trigger for the alarm.
"That's the only way we can get a lot of people's attention and get the message out there as soon as possible," he said. "If it activates, we encourage people to get information, get to a radio, get to a TV, get on the internet; something's going on."
According to Lathrop, they have used the alarm for emergency purposes about once a year for the last couple years. Corry has managed to steer clear of most major storms in recent years.
"We've been very fortunate," Lathrop said. "We've activated it but everything has gone around us."
Lathrop said that if the alarm were to fail to activate properly again, then he will need to have the county come out and do some more work on it.
The siren rises in volume and maintains a loud tone for about 3 minutes, Lathrop said, and then it will fall back down to a quieter tone. Once this happens three times, it is considered to have completed a full cycle.