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Ill. fire district plans switch to wireless system

Wireless system sends the signal directly to SEECOM regional dispatch center, which notifies local fire departments

By Elena Ferrarin
The Chicago Daily Herald

CARY, Ill. — The Cary Fire Protection District is planning to switch its fire alarm system for commercial buildings and agencies such as schools to the wireless radio system used by the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District.

The current system in Cary connects 65 local fire alarms via telephone line to a central board in the Cary police building, which then sends the signal to SEECOM regional dispatch center in Crystal Lake, said Cary Fire Lt. Andy Veath.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills wireless system sends the signal directly to SEECOM, which notifies local fire departments, Veath said. “Most communities are going to wireless transmission,” he said.

The Cary district won’t have to purchase equipment because the system was already set up by Algonquin-Lake in the Hills, which also will handle billing and installation, he said.

Users would pay $80 per month for the wireless system — less than what they pay for the current system, which includes a fee for the monitoring of the central board in Cary, plus the cost of a dedicated telephone line, which can vary, Veath said.

In all but a few instances, installation of the wireless alarm system is a very easy process, Veath said.

Subscribers also will have the option of hiring a private company to monitor their alarms. When the fire alarms goes off, the company receives the signal first, and then contacts SEECOM, Veath explained.

Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Asst. Fire Chief John Gaughan said a direct connection to SEECOM ensures the quickest response by emergency responders. The wireless system has worked “wonderfully” since it was installed in 2005, he said.

Telephone lines, especially during heavy rain, can cause false alarms, he said.

“There has been about a 45-percent decrease in false alarms,” with the wireless system, he said. “We believe it’s the fastest and most reliable alarm system.”

In order to do away with the old system and switch to wireless, the Cary Fire District needs to implement intergovernmental agreements with the village of Cary and the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire District, Veath said.

Cary Village Administrator Cameron Davis said the issue will be discussed at a future village board meeting, likely in April. “I think the board will be supportive of that,” he said. “It’s obviously the way of the future and proven technology.”

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