BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The NCAR Fire that burned over 180 acres in Boulder County was the first opportunity for officials to utilize different emergency notification systems.

After it took 42 minutes for the first alert to be sent to the residents in the Superior and Louisville areas who were in the path of the raging Marshall Fire, the City of Boulder quickly worked to implement a new system.

According to the Boulder Office of Disaster Management, they initially wanted the system to be ready by April. However, the NCAR Fire put the system to work earlier than expected.

On Sunday, officials clarified that their alert system is actually comprised of more than one notification method.

“There are two different ways to tell people, ‘Hey this is what’s going on, please be aware and do X-Y-Z,'” Marya Washburn with Boulder Fire and Rescue said.

The first is a sign-up system, which thousands subscribed to after the Marshall Fire in December, officials said. Twelve hundred people were alerted of the NCAR Fire through that method.

Cell phone towers are the second method, officials said, by which emergency alerts are shared.

“It will go to a slightly broader area because of how they function,” Washburn said.

Boulder Fire and Rescue said this alert system casts a wider net, depending on the coverage area of the individual cell tower, hence folks who live miles away getting an alert about this emergency.

Ultimately, officials said, they’d rather you get an alert than nothing at all

“We’re comfortable with getting more folks if we have to, so that we make sure we get everybody,” Washburn said.

Here’s how Boulder’s emergency notifications system now operates:

Everbridge Alert System

The first emergency notification system that Boulder County used was Everbridge. The Everbridge system sends alerts to all the landlines in the affected area. Individuals can register their cell phone numbers to receive alerts about a certain address.

According to officials, the Everbridge system is the, “most focused and most accurate system for receiving important safety notifications.”

Boulder County encourages all residents to sign up with the Everbridge system so that they can receive the most up-to-date and accurate safety notifications.

Wireless Emergency Alerts

The second system the county implemented in early March was the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). The system uses cell phone technology, including cellular towers, to push notifications out to all cell phones that are configured to receive them. This system is similar to receiving Amber Alerts or National Weather Service notices.

Officials said the WEA system is beneficial because it can reach the residents who have not opted into the Everbridge alerts, oftentimes including the most vulnerable residents.

However, the system has a downside. Due to the use of cellular towers, the alerts are less precise. Anyone whose phone pings to the tower will get the alert. This explains the numerous amount of individuals who received an alert well outside the evacuation zone for the NCAR Fire.

The county stated this is a well-known issue and currently hard to avoid.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management asks individuals who receive a WEA notice and feel they are not at risk to visit the OEM Emergency Status page for the most up-to-date information as it becomes available to the county.

“The City of Boulder’s goal is to always use these technologies in a way that gets the most people out of harm’s way while minimizing the possibility of confusing people and potentially clogging evacuation routes unnecessarily,” Boulder OEM stated in a release.

When an emergency occurs, 911 dispatchers work with first responders to make the decision whether to use the WEA or Everbridge system.