City Addresses Public Safety Concerns After OKC Residents Confuse 5G Cell Towers For Tornado Sirens

Monday, October 7th 2019, 5:17 pm
By: Karl Torp

The latest and greatest in cell tower technology is creating a safety concern for emergency managers in Oklahoma City. 

The new 5G cell towers look similar to existing city warning sirens. The 5G towers may be high-tech, even if they don’t look the part. The ones News 9 spotted along Lincoln Boulevard are wooden poles with a reddish-brown cylinder at the top.

After the city conducts its weekly noon Saturday siren tests, residents have complained about not hearing the sirens. In actuality, they are mistaking the 5G towers as sirens.

“It’s a public safety issue. They won’t do anything until their siren goes off and in this case, it’s not a siren but a 5G cell tower,” said OKC Director of Emergency Management Frank Barnes.

Barnes said tornado sirens will have that distinct beehive speaker on top. Barnes told News 9 Public Works has received 178 permit requests to put 5G cell towers on city right-a-ways and easements.

He said there are many more towers on private property.