Outdoor Alert Sirens

Outdoor Public Alert Sirens in Pennington County will be used to notify citizens of impending danger. Sirens can be sounded for any life-threatening, all-risk, all-hazard emergency from natural threats or human-caused threats including high winds, large hail, wildfires, acts of terrorism, dam failure, flash floods, tornadoes, and spills of hazardous materials.

When an outdoor siren activates in Pennington County it will be a steady, constant tone, (not a beeping or high/low tone). It is intended to let people outside know that there is some type of imminent threat and that they should turn on broadcast media (local TV / Radio) or listen to NOAA radio to learn specifically what is happening, specifically where the threat is, and what the recommended protective actions are.

Pennington County has 34 sirens to alert of impending danger located in Box Elder, Hill City, Keystone, New Underwood, Rapid City, and Wall. These sirens are tested at noon on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month**. If you hear the siren at any other time, please tune into your radio or local news station for more information.

Outdoor Warning Siren steps to take infographic

Siren Maps

Rapid City & Box Elder  [PDF] 

Hill City [PDF]    

Keystone  [PDF]  

New Underwood [PDF]  

Wall [PDF]  




Outdoor Alert Siren FAQ’s

1. What is the purpose of the sirens?

The sirens are used to notify citizens who are outdoors that they need to seek shelter immediately and turn on their TV or radio for information.

2. When are the sirens sounded?

Sirens are sounded for any life-threatening, all-risk, all-hazard emergency from natural threats or human-caused threats as determined by key public safety officials, including high winds, large hail, wildfires, terrorism, dam failure, flash floods, tornadoes, and spills of hazardous materials.

3. Who decides to set off the sirens and who physically activates them?

They are activated automatically based on criteria established by key public safety officials. 

4. Are all the sirens activated each time they go off?

When an incident occurs, depending on the location and scale of the emergency occurring, sirens in or near the incident area may be activated. For the monthly tests, all sirens are activated.

5. Why do the sirens go off the first and third Saturday each month at 12:00 noon?

These two Saturdays each month** are a regular siren test to ensure that the sirens receive the activation signal and also to confirm they are functioning properly.
**Saturday SIREN TESTS HAVE PAUSED for the months of January & February 2024. PRESS RELEASE

6. Why can’t I hear the sirens in my home or business?

Pole-mounted outdoor sirens are intended as an "OUTDOOR" alert. They are designed to notify people who are outside and would not normally be near a radio or TV to hear or see that a dangerous incident may be occurring. With current construction methods and sound insulation, achieving sound penetration into structures is difficult. A home or business may or may not hear a siren sound. For this reason, Pennington County Emergency Management recommends that each business and household purchase a weather alert radio as another layer of notification.

7. Is there a volume adjustment on the sirens?

There is not a "volume adjustment" on the siren; however, sirens may seem louder in the fall and winter as there is less foliage to absorb the sound. Some sirens also rotate which can make them seem louder or softer depending on the rotation while they are activated.

8. Are the sirens activated with different sound tones to alert for different types of threats?

Here in Pennington County we only use the steady "on" tone to alert for any rapidly developing, life-threatening situation. Different models of sirens are capable of making different high and low tones. These varied tones go back to the Cold War Civil Defense days when sirens were required to have different sounds for "air raids" and "civil emergencies." 

9. What happens if the power fails? Will the sirens still sound?

In most cases, the siren should sound before severe weather could affect power. Most sirens have battery backup and will still sound if power is lost.

10. How are the sirens maintained?

Sirens are checked annually along with being tested during the monthly tests. If a siren near your home or office is malfunctioning or has an unusual sound, please contact the Emergency Management office during regular business hours, or after hours contact the non-emergency 911 Dispatch number (394.4131).

11. How much does a new siren cost?

A new siren, including electronics to operate it, a pole or other structure to mount it on, and battery backup, can average $20,000.00 or more per siren, depending on different configurations.

12. How many sirens are there in our area?

Currently, there are 34 sirens strategically placed throughout our county. See the map links located above for locations.

13. How is it decided where a siren will be placed?

Pennington County Emergency Management will take a look at a couple of different things. The primary factor in determining a location is the level of outdoor activity in an area, such as a sports complex. We also look at available land, power, and suitability of coverage.