Springfield, Illinois

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Springfield Warning System
T128 springfield lindbergh.JPG

T-128 located at Veterans and Lindbergh.

Type Municipal
Location Springfield, Illinois
Date installed August - December 2006
Status Active
Testing dates First Tuesday of the month
Testing times 10:00 AM

The Springfield Warning System is a system comprising of 57 T-128s. The system covers the city of Springfield and several other communities. The sirens are activated by the Springfield Fire Department in Springfield.


First Sirens

Stratton Building Thunderbolt

In late 1956, the City of Springfield purchased and installed 4 Thunderbolt 1000s throughout Springfield. The four locations included the Allis-Chalmers plant, DuBois Elementary School, the Pillsbury Plant and the Stratton Building. When tested on January 26, 1957, the sirens were barely audible in some parts of the city but it had the right effect.[1]

System Expansion

2005 System Coverage Map

As the city expanded, the need for sirens also grew. The system was mainly comprised of SD-10s supplemented with Thunderbolts. The system also had a Model 2T, several Model 3s, a Model 7 as well as several Darley models of the previously mentioned sirens. In later years, the system was expanded with several EOWS-612s, 7 2001-SRNs and older sirens purchased from auctions. Matthew Stanley from The Siren Archive has photos of a few of the sirens through out Springfield. These can be viewed on The Siren Archive under the Sangamon County category.

Downfall of the System

Over the years, the city never bothered to implement maintenance plans. The effects of this poor planning was brought to life in 1989 when the city confessed that a Thunderbolt on Stevenson Drive was dead for over 3 years and that they had a replacement for 2.5 years but didn't have the funds to install it.[2] During the March 1st, 2005 siren test, the city stationed persons at each of the sirens only to find out that 30 of the 54 sirens did not activate.[3] Within a month, the city was able to get all but 2 sirens functioning. Most of the failures were due to trees blocking the antennas on the sirens.

Besides the lack of regular maintenance, the system was also plagued with activation issues. The system was originally activated with phone lines but between 1994-1996, the system was converted to radio activation. This system had two faults. There were only two activation points and each point had two different encoders. One encoder activated 10 sirens and a second activated the other 44. Besides having the screwy activation sequence, the system operated on the same frequency as the county dispatch. When activating or deactivating the system, the tones would prevent the channel from being used for dispatch purposes.

On March 12, 2006, a pair of twin F2 tornadoes struck the city. The sirens worked fine for the first storm but it knocked out power to roughly 90% of the city. When a second storm hit later that night, only a handful of the newer sirens with battery backup or undamaged sirens that still had power sounded.[4]

After the Storm

After the tornadoes silenced the sirens, the city began planning to replace the sirens.

New Sirens

Originally, the city went to Federal Signal for offers on a new siren system. In the end, the city signed a $983,000 contract with Wireless USA for a new system of 57 ASC T-128s with battery back up and computer control to be installed. By the end of November, the new siren system was installed and tested with the old system dismantled.[5]

Old Sirens

The story of the old siren system doesn't end at them getting removed. On March 12, 2007, then Mayor Davlin donated the usable SD-10s to surrounding communities. The communities that received the sirens included Chatham, Curran, Riverton, Spaulding and Virden. [6][7] The only known SD-10 in Chatham was replaced in 2011 and the plans to install the siren in Curran died due to costs and no tornado safe area for the residents. Both Riverton and Virden received and installed a total of 3 SD-10 each. Riverton managed to procure the siren meant for Curran after they did nothing with it along with Spaulding's SD-10s which they also chose not to install. In 2015, Riverton disposed of all the SD-10s with Dawson acquiring one and installing it on the east end of town. According to meeting minutes for Spaulding around this time, Arenzville supposedly received 2 SD-10s but that has not been confirmed.

The 2001-SRNs were sold back to Wireless USA in exchange for a $1,000 discount on each new siren.

In June 2006, the City Council declared the remaining old sirens to be surplus property. In 2011, the remaining old sirens were auctioned off. For photos of the old sirens at the city lot, one can refer to the Siren Board post.

Over the years, posts on the forum have popped up about the old sirens and can be see on the Poorly Maintained Sirens thread or this post.

Pillsbury Plant Thunderbolt


Some odds and ends that don't fit anywhere above.

Fun Facts

  • The original 4 air raid sirens were Thunderbolt 1000s and 2 of the 4 still remain in Springfield.
  • The downtown 1000T still stands alebit hornless.
  • The remaining Thunderbolts were a mix of single phase and three phase.



  1. "Sound off -- The Visual Journal". The State Journal-Register. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  2. "CITY'S SILENT SIRENS IN SHABBY SHAPE". The State Journal-Register. 26 May 1989. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  3. "More than half of Springfield sirens fail to sound". The State Journal-Register. 5 March 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  4. "Storm silences sirens". The State Journal-Register. 14 March 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  5. "NEW CITY TORNADO SIRENS ARE FULLY OPERATIONAL". The City of Springfield. 28 November 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  7. "Road trip to Springfield IL, and some new toys". The Siren Board. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2017.