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posted: 9/4/2012 10:33 PM

Des Plaines to amend fire code for better communication

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The Des Plaines City Council on Tuesday night approved amending the city's fire code requiring radio amplifiers that would allow police and fire personnel to send and receive radio signals within larger city buildings.

All new buildings must have approved radio coverage for emergency responders inside the building based upon the existing coverage levels of the city's public safety communication systems. A city building official and fire code official must approve any exceptions to this code requirement to allow the building owner to install a wired communication system instead of the radio coverage system.

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The move comes after officials discovered emergency personnel were having communications problems when inside the fortresslike Rivers Casino soon after it opened in July 2011. City officials had not anticipated the problem when the $445 million casino was being built on 20 acres off Devon Avenue and Des Plaines River Road.

After months of studying the issue, the city and Midwest Gaming & Entertainment officials determined the radio equipment used by emergency personnel is not powerful enough to penetrate the steel walls of the casino.

Des Plaines officials later agreed to pay half the cost to fix that problem -- roughly $49,000 in total to install upgraded telecommunications equipment -- inside the casino so police and fire radios can work indoors.

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