February 27, 2023
Sedgwick County Ribbon-Cutting to Showcase World’s Oldest Thunderbolt Sirens on Saturday, March 4
(Sedgwick County, Kan.) – Four of the world’s oldest Thunderbolt sirens still in service are right here in Sedgwick County and will go on permanent display, starting Saturday, March 4, 2023. A ribbon-cutting event at 10 a.m. will showcase one of the historic outdoor warning devices that is 70 years old, at Sedgwick County Fire Station (SCFD) 32, 7750 N. Wyandotte Way, Park City. The other three Thunderbolt sirens will be on display at SCFD Station 38, Wichita Fire Station 20 and on a traveling exhibit used by Sedgwick County Emergency Management (SCEM).
Thunderbolt sirens date back to the early 1950’s, when the Wichita-Sedgwick County Civil Defense installed a total of 13 to warn of air raids during the Cold War. A few years later, the sirens were sounded to alert residents to dangerous tornado activity. Ever since, Thunderbolts have played an important part in severe weather awareness.
“We are grateful to our predecessors in Civil Defense who took the first steps toward developing the outdoor warning system we rely on today,” said Julie Stimson, SCEM Director.
“To have the oldest Civil Defense-era Thunderbolt siren in the world is really cool,” said Jonathan Marr, SCEM Deputy Director. “Historical landmarks like this make our community interesting and unique.”
Saturday’s ceremony will remember and pay tribute to two of the public servants who were instrumental in establishing the Thunderbolt siren system. Their family members will be in attendance, and a few surprises are planned.