ST. JOSEPH — The emergency siren Berrien County residents may have heard for a brief time Wednesday morning was a false alarm.

The siren was inadvertently sounded for about 10-15 seconds during what was intended to be a routine silent testing of the system, said Berrien County Sheriff's Capt. Rockey Adams, commanding officer of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

The siren, maintained by Cook Nuclear Plant and operated by the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, is tested aloud the first Saturday of every month, with the alarm sounding for about one minute. However, Adams said, the county routinely checks the system weekly using a silent electrical pulse.

During Wednesday's weekly test, county operators inadvertently activated the audible alarm, causing the siren to sound for 10-15 seconds before the audible alarm was deactivated.

"Maintaining this system is a partnership between our team and the public," Adams said. "While the inadvertent sounding was unfortunate, I am encouraged that people were paying attention to the system and appreciate that they called to let us know they heard (the alarm)," Adams said.

The audible tests conducted the first Saturday of every month typically last about one minute. The alarms would sound for three to five minutes or longer in the event of a true emergency, he said. Further, when the sirens sound for a real emergency, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is also activated, with a message broadcast by local media to let the community know and give instructions. 

Emergency messages also are transmitted through Wireless Emergency Alerts to capable cellular devices, and the county's B-WARN! system would be activated.

Resident can sign up for B-WARN! through the Emergency Management Division pages within the Berrien County Sheriff's Office website.

Siren and other basic emergency information can also be found in the yearly calendars that are produced by the Cook Nuclear Plant and mailed to residents and businesses in Berrien County. A PDF of the calendar, along with answers to Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at www.cookinfo.com/EmergencyPlan.aspx.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa