(Above) A Chicago Fire Department truck emerges from a fire station on West Illinois Street.
22-Jun-18 Ubiquitous sirens in downtown Chicago may soon get a little quieter.
A bill limiting the loudness of sirens on emergency vehicles has passed the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives and is on its way to Governor Bruce Rauner.
HB2402 states that the audible signal intensity of a siren on an ambulance or a rescue vehicle shall not exceed 100 decibels at a distance of 50 feet.
100 decibels is comparable to a hand drill or gas-powered lawn mower.
Sirens on Chicago Fire Department vehicles currently emit 121 to 123 decibels, as required by federal law, according to CFD spokesperson Larry Langford.
Introduced on February 3, 2017, by 26th District Representative Christian Mitchell, the bill had the support of downtown aldermen Brian Hopkins and Brendan Reilly, and Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. On August 24, 2017, about 75 people attended a meeting hosted by SOAR to complain about sirens, arguably pronounced in Streeterville as it is home to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lurie Childrens Hospital.
(Above, left to right) 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, SOAR President Debby Gershbein, 26th District State Representative Christian Mitchell, and Rob Christie, Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. Photo by Chicago Corporate Photography and Video.
The bill would also limit the noise level from motorcycles to 80 decibels at 50 feet when the speed limit is no more than 35 miles per hour. Other vehicles would have similar noise limits, depending on speed limit and steepness of the road.