Fairfax County to introduce new emergency alert system

WASHINGTON — If severe weather, massive traffic tie-ups or public safety issues disrupt people’s lives, WTOP provides real-time information as situations develop. But people aren’t always surfing WTOP.com or listening to the radio.

Local emergency alert systems are good tools to make people aware something noteworthy is happening.

Fairfax County is launching a new emergency alert system, Fairfax Alerts, next week that will replace the existing system entirely in coming months.

“If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you,” says Fairfax County Emergency Management Specialist Paul Lupe.

Residents wishing to continue to get emergency alerts need to sign up for Fairfax Alerts after the system becomes active June 19.

The new system has many features not previously available. Among them, the ability to establish quiet times.

“So you’re not woken up in the middle of the night for certain alerts,” says Lupe.

Emergency managers can override that quiet mode in situations deemed “significant or life threatening,” he says.

The Fairfax Alerts mobile app for iPhone and Android has an interactive feature that allows two-way communication between residents and emergency managers.

“It allows you to communicate back to us if we ask for information. We can actually send a message requesting a photograph or your location to see what’s going on within the community during a major event,” Lupe says.

Other Fairfax Alert features include:

  • Geographically targeted alerts
  • Alerts for only specific emergencies
  • Alerts covering up to five addresses such as schools, home or work
  • Alerts sent via up to ten methods such as text, email or to work/home phones
  • Non-emergency government notifications on elections and taxes, etc.

Lupe emphasizes “the new platform is going to require all the existing users who were on our alert system to create a new account.”

Below are alert sign-ups for other counties in the region:

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