Although it is possible to put a number on the purchase price of a
device that notifies people of an emergency, giving people amble time to
reach safety is priceless. Like all Public Safety personnel who pride
themselves in the art of providing a safe place for their residents to
live, the Village of Morton Grove Fire Department is no different. They
continue to look for new ways to ensure that they know their town and
they know what their residents need.
One item that makes this list of needs is the ever-important
emergency siren. Emergency sirens act as noisemakers that have the
ability to be heard for up to almost a mile in distance. If these
devices are properly located throughout a municipality, they can offer
enough noise to warn all residents of an oncoming emergency. The
question is “How do you know where to position these sirens so that they
can be heard village-wide.” That is a question that the Morton Grove
Fire Department knew might be easily answered by the help of Geographic
Information System (GIS) Department.
Considering that the Fire Department already knew where their
existing siren locations were located they could start the analysis
right then and there. By using a simple tool found within GIS, a process
known as a “Buffer” would be applied to existing siren location in
order to generate a fixed-distance ring around the existing structure.
This distance would depict the range in which the siren manufacturer
indicated humans could hear the siren noise. Although the emergency
siren manufacturer indicated that the siren could be heard from 5,000
feet away the Morton Grove Fire Department decided to play it safe and
run the “Buffer” at a distance of 4,000 feet instead. This way they
could add a cushion of ensured safety to their analysis.
Once the first buffer was run it was then up to the Fire Department
to locate village owned land that they could use in order to install as
many new emergency sirens as it would take to cover the entire
municipality. Each time they were granted the right to use a piece of
land they would submit the location to the GIS Department to run an
additional buffer. Furthermore, they continued to analyze what locations
might work as which location might not work in order to reach their
goal of blanketing the entire community with an emergency siren call
during a time of need.
After many alterations between existing and proposed locations, the
Fire Department has narrowed down the placement search to five proposed
sites and one existing location. These locations and their respective
buffers have been placed on map and submitted to the Fire Department for
their internal use. All in all, a once daunting task has now been made
easier by the use of GIS.