In 2015, the village of Tinley Park—one of the fastest-growing suburbs in South Chicago, Illinois—completed the installation of a state-of-the-art alerting system within the Tinley Park Fire Department.
Designed and manufactured by Arizona-based US Digital Designs, the Phoenix G2 Fire Station Alerting System features illuminated speakers in the ceilings in all rooms, scrolling message signs in all rooms and hallways, and a strobe light in the apparatus bay.
“With a population approaching 60,000, we’re a fairly large community,” said Trustee T.J. Grady, who also is chairman of the village’s Public Safety Committee. “Over the years, we realized that the community had outgrown its fire and emergency safety alerting systems and that it was time for an upgrade.”
The old systems primarily relied on voice pagers and a second system that integrated the pagers with speakers and printers, and worked in conjunction with the fire station’s seven-year-old computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.
While visual alerts via message signs are one of the most notable improvements over the old system, the decreased dispatch times and shorter “push-out” times have also been a great and welcome improvement, Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Kris Dunn said.
“Our prior system required the dispatcher to take the call, take down all of the information and talk over the speaker, which meant putting the caller on hold,” he said. “Now we’ve got it down to 13 seconds from taking the call to pushing the button and sending the dispatch. Meanwhile, the dispatcher can still talk to the caller and continue to take down information.”
Lisa Kortum, Tinley Park’s Operations Coordinator, echoed Dunn’s enthusiasm for the new system.
“We’re pleasantly surprised at how efficient the Phoenix G2 system has been,” she said. “Our dispatchers see the benefit of what automated dispatching can do for us. Another thing that we changed in 2014 was our CAD provider; the dispatchers really like the integration and how the Phoenix G2 and OSSI systems work together. It was pretty seamless, and it works well.”
The new system will help the fire department continue to improve its response time, Dunn said.
“The U.S. standard is six minutes from call to scene,” he said. “All fire departments must have an average six-minute response time. Therefore, we’re looking for ways to shave off time. Previously, it had been roughly five minutes from the time we took the call to the time we dispatched and were en route. The Phoenix G2 system gives us more time to get to the apparatus with more information at hand. Our average response time now is about 4.5 minutes. I think the whole thing has been a really good experience.”
Tinley Park’s fire and emergency response capabilities include four fire stations and five ambulances that answer 2,600 annual fire calls and perform roughly 5,000 EMS-related services. The community employs 132 on-staff fire and EMS professionals.