City’s CodeRED warning system to launch after test

By Keisha Howerth

The city plans to launch a test call for the CodeRED alert system in coming weeks.

Chad McNett, DeKalb community relations officer, said the test call was pushed from the end of May to train more dispatchers and get them comfortable with the system. The CodeRED alerts notify residents on situations like weather alerts, missing children and drinking water emergencies.

“It was better to delay and do it right,” McNett said. “We don’t want to be scrambling when we do the test call and not be satisfied with it.”

Once the test call is made, the CodeRED alert system will be able to go live and send out emergency notifications. Residents can sign up to receive alerts through phone calls, text messages, emails, social media and through the free CodeRED Mobile Alert app.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said residents can register on the city’s website,, or on the DeKalb Illinois Fire Department and DeKalb Police Department Facebook pages. Users can click the CodeRED icon and register the phone numbers and email addresses where they’d like to receive notifications.

“They can also call to sign up,” McMaster said. “They also have the option to sign up for general, non-emergency notifications to keep themselves informed on what’s going on.”

DeKalb Police Lt. Tracy Smith said those who don’t live in DeKalb, such as NIU students, can register. Smith said residents can also benefit from CodeRED when they’re out of town.

“If someone was on vacation and there was a tornado warning in DeKalb, they can still receive that notification and see if their house will be affected by it,” Smith said.

Since CodeRED registration began in early April, McNett said more than 300 DeKalb residents have added their contact information, including more than 20 businesses. McNett said 453 phone numbers have been added to the system, and about 200 residents have signed up to receive email notifications.

McNett said CodeRED materials have been brought to events to get word out to residents to register.

“The numbers make us happy, especially because we’ve been able to promote [CodeRED] without a budget,” McNett said.

McNett said the city was provided a database of 12,000 residential and business phone numbers.

“We want more people to sign up to help clean up the database,” Smith said. “There could be numbers in there with people who have since moved away.”

Smith said the test call will also help confirm what numbers in the database are still in service.