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Sirens will only sound during bad weather, tests

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The civil defense sirens in Wadena will only blow during bad weather and for tests -- but not for fire calls.

Wadena Fire Chief Dean Uselman said Sheriff Mike Carr did some checking, and Wadena was the only town that used its sirens to alert firefighters and the public to fire calls.

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That tended to desensitize the public to the sirens, Mayor Wayne Wolden explained. Some residents told him they don't pay as much attention to the sirens anymore.

"I talked to a lot of people -- a number of them in SW Wadena -- who told me they didn't take that siren very seriously because it goes off all the time for fires," Wolden said.

That changed on June 17, when the sirens are credited for saving numerous lives during a devastating EF4 tornado.

"Since the tornado, it's not been used for fire calls," Uselman said.

Wolden made a motion that the policy be changed to only use the sirens to signal bad weather, and to conduct required tests. He made his motion retroactive to 5:05 p.m. on June 17, when the tornado hit. The motion passed.

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