Routt County residents urged to sign up for Code Red alerts |

Routt County residents urged to sign up for Code Red alerts

— The extreme risk of wildfire has prompted Routt County officials to test the Code Red emergency communications system Friday, and they're urging residents to register their cellphone numbers and email addresses as soon as possible.

Routt County Communications Director Tim McMenamin said those who don't receive the phone call, text message or email during Friday’s test are not in the system and should sign up to receive emergency messages in the event of a wildfire or other disaster.

"Code Red helps us attach your cellphone to a property," North Routt Fire Protection Chief Bob Reilley said.

Residents can sign up to receive the free alerts by visiting Routt County's website at and clicking on "Code Red" at the top of the page.

McMenamin said the county paid $50,000 to launch the Code Red service in 2009. It pays an annual fee of $12,000 to retain and maintain the system.

There are more than 16,000 contacts in the Code Red database, a number that McMenamin thinks would be three times larger if every local phone were registered. Landline phone numbers supplied by Century Link already should be in the database, but cellphone users need to register their numbers separately. Residents who use Internet phone services like Vonage also need to register their numbers.

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Registered numbers are added to the database immediately, McMenamin said. If people are unsure whether their landlines or cellphone numbers are in the database, McMenamin said there is no harm in re-registering.

Routt County Communications can select who receives emergency messages. For example, 144 calls went out to Phippsburg residents last week telling them not to drink their tap water because of a system failure. McMenamin said 89 of the calls were answered, which is a 61 percent success rate.

"If they have voicemail or an answering machine, it will leave a message," McMenamin said.

He said the Code Red system is capable of making 1,000 calls with 30-second messages every minute. Included with the county's annual contract is 30,000 minutes of calls. After that, it costs 3 cents per minute.

McMenamin said they never have exceeded 30,000 minutes, and if they have remaining minutes, they use them to send out tests, typically twice each year.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

Sign up for Code Red alerts

Residents without landlines can receive reverse 911 messages, but they first must sign up for the free service. Those who want to receive the emergency messages should visit the Routt County Communications website at and click on the “Code Red” link.

The registration process requires residents to enter basic information, such as their address and cellphone number. Routt County Communications then can access the database to send out emergency alerts to cellphones and/or email addresses.