Chicago Fire Department makes system updates one year after fatal blaze

December 21, 2011

Michell Eloy

One year after two firefighters died fighting a blaze on the city's South Side, the Chicago Fire Department says it's made key updates to help keep responders safer.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said on Wednesday that firefighters are now alerted before leaving the station if a building is considered "dangerous." Santiago also said updates to the agency's digital radio system are close to being finished.

"They [the radios] have to be perfect for safety reasons. People talk on those things. Digital is all brand new throughout the fire services in the country. We're making sure ours are as best as we can get them," said Santiago.

The Fire Department was criticized after last year's incident for not having enough communication with the men inside the burning building.

In July, federal investigators with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health complied a report that said commanders outside the building didn’t have enough communication with the men inside who were fighting the fire. The report also criticized the CFD for not giving every firefighter a personal radio, and for not having a system whereby firefighters could easily identify structurally unsafe buildings before entering them.