As Fall has transformed into Winter, the changes in temperature has brought about some severe weather near the fire district. Thankfully, our town was spared some of the more devastating results of these latest storm systems. As we reach out to the southern Illinois communities that bore the brunt of these storms, we also wanted to take a moment to address how our community reacts in a time of potential crisis. What systems are in place to warn us of local weather related dangers and what can you expect of your emergency responders as these events start to unfold?

Our district consists of Norridge, Harwood Heights, and the Norwood Park Township. For years now an early warning system has been in place to let residents know of impending weather conditions. You may have heard the noise before, as the system does an audible test at all speaker locations every Tuesday morning at about 10am. There is also a lightning alert which activates to warn people, especially children who might be playing league games or outside, of conditions which can create dangerous lightning in our area. However, there are many storms in which this system remains silent. Why is this? How does this system not activate when the TV stations are broadcasting alert systems on every station throughout Illinois?

The answer lies in the specific area covered by our alert system, and how it is activated. We are part of a regional alert system, called NORCOMM. During severe weather NORCOMM watches local weather conditions for our specific region and tracks weather changes. If potentially dangerous conditions and/or storm cells develop near our districts , NORCOMM sets off the regional alerts for our division, and we set off the tones with instructions for residents. In the event that a first responder notes changing weather patterns or a change of conditions that appear dangerous, they can also notify NORCOMM directly and take the initiative to protect the community. NORCOMM has specific criteria for the activation of this system, and a legion of storm monitors to maintain a close watch on weather patterns during storms.

Where news and internet services provide emergency information to their entire audience, the district focuses on the local response needs for our communities. This is why some television, cable, and internet alerts may provide information which isn’t necessarily reflected in the activation of our system. Both are important to pay attention to, and both work hard to keep you safe and informed, both regionally and locally!