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updated: 11/26/2013 6:12 PM

Hoffman Estates considers new alert system for fire department

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Hoffman Estates firefighters may soon be benefiting from an improved alerting system and new mobile computers for five fire department vehicles.

While meeting as the public health and safety committee Monday, the Hoffman Estates village board reviewed a request to waive bidding and purchase $206,200 in new fire station alerting equipment for each of the village's four fire stations.

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The new equipment will replace systems that are more than 20 years old. It will match the master control panel that was installed in each station last year by the department's dispatching center -- Northwest Central Dispatch System -- when it switched to a new computerized dispatch system.

Benefits of the new equipment include escalating tone signals and clear voice announcements, which will likely reduce cardiac stress and anxiety in firefighters and improve response time.

"Even before all the dispatch information is verbalized, there are scrolling screens and special lights on the ceiling that come on that inform members of the station that they're going to be due to respond," said Fire Chief Jeff Jorian.

The system is also equipped with an automatic power supply, ensuring emergency calls won't be missed if the fire station experiences a power outage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant to the department that will cover 80 percent of the cost of the new equipment.

The village will cover the remaining 20 percent, with nearly $31,000 from reserves in the general fund and about $10,300 from reserves in the EDA administration fund.

In addition to the new alerting equipment, the board also reviewed a request to waive bidding and purchase $31,000 worth of new mobile work stations to be installed in a new fire engine that has yet to be purchased and four existing vehicles in the fleet. The current mobile computer equipment in the four existing vehicles was installed in 2007 and 2008.

The village's 2013 operating budget contains funding for the purchase of the mobile work stations.

Final board approval for the purchase of the mobile work stations and the alerting system is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 2.

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