One of the components of an effective warning system is to have distinct and easily recognized tones (sirens) for each type of event. It was decided to keep the standard "alert" tone for tornado warnings. Working with the Columbia Fire Department, the "wail" tone was chosen for fire calls since it closely resembles an emergency response siren. The remaining tone, the Noon and 6 p.m. tone, is sounded out of tradition. Once used to alert farmers in the field of dinner (lunch time) and supper time, these tones needed to be distinctly different from the other two.
With the increased coverage area, it was decided a more subtle tone should be used. As a result, the church bells (Westminster Chimes) were selected.