The Pryor Times

January 25, 2014

Firefighters vote to become storm spotters

Cydney Baron
Staff Reporter

PRYOR, OK — Mayes County firefighters voted to declare storm spotting as an official run at the association meeting Monday night.

This decision will mean training and proper equipment to allow firefighters to respond to weather-related emergencies at the discretion of Mayes County Emergency Manage-ment.

MCEM Director Johnny Janzen said these emergencies are divided into three levels and participating fire departments will decide which level to respond to.

“Level one, these are typical watch situations. Only emergency management personnel will be on notice.  We will send out email and text messages to spotters letting them know what we can expect if storms do develop,” Janzen said, adding fire department assistance will likely not be needed in a level one situation.

“A level two is a moderate weather event, such as severe thunderstorm warnings with little expectations of the storm becoming tornadic,” Janzen said.

“The departments that want to participate in level two events will be paged or set a text message, your choice, once you're 10-8 please notify the EOC you're available,” said Janzen.

High end weather events, such as tornado storms with warnings or tornados expected with a severe thunderstorm warning issued, is a level three.

“At this level we need all spotters that are available. The departments that want to participate in a level three event will be paged or text,” Janzen said.

He added that it is best to have at least two personnel in a vehicle when responding to these situations.

“I’ve had thoughts and concerns about this. We all know what happened in Moore and El Reno. That could happen here,” said Firefighter Association Chairman Jason Miller. “It’s all about communication, accountability and safety.”

“We do not expect your department to chase storms across the county. Storm chasing is very dangerous, especially at night,” said Janzen. “MCEM has several storm chasers that have radar systems in their vehicles. They are trained and experienced to handle that task.”

Firefighters would be called on to sit at a fixed location and report weather updates back to MCEM.

With a reminder the storm spotter training is 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at

the Mayes County Courthouse, the decision to declare storm spotting an official firefighter run was approved.