If an emergency occurs in your building, will people be able to communicate with outside help? Will you be able to guide everyone to safety? The occupants need to be able to dial 911 from their cell phones. The first responders need to be able to communicate with other emergency personnel on the outside of the building. You need to be able to manage evacuation, communication and signal systems. Many buildings are made of materials which impede cellular or communication signals. There are things you can do to boost signals within building walls to ensure public safety compliance.
What is an ERRCS?
An Emergency Responder Radio Communication System, or ERRCS, has become a required standard for buildings in many areas around the country. ERRCS is an in-building communication system designed to improve critical communications within a building as well as allowing communication to the outside. ERRCS is an extension of the public safety network, and uses a series of small antennas called a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to receive or transmit radio signals from the first responder network.
ERRCS consists of a few components expertly installed in a building. A Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) system is key and connects to a donor antenna. This antenna transmits and receives proper radio frequencies from the public safety network. The BDA also connects via cable or fiber to the DAS where signals are re-amplified throughout the building in areas with limited or poor coverage.
The requirements for a municipality are generally set by the “Authority Having Jurisdiction” (AHJ), who is the contact point for local code requirements. This is often the Fire Marshall in your area. Their recommendations are based on the International Fire Code (IFC), section 510, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), code 72.
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The requirements for building safety and communication systems set forth by the IFC and NFPA have been updated. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some common requirements for public safety compliance and ones you should strongly consider when installing an ERRCS.
Common ERRCS requirements
ERRCS are required on buildings 3 or more stories or over 50,000 square feet in area or anything with underground parking. The bigger and more complex the building, the trickier keeping the signal strength in each area is. Building materials such as metal, concrete, brick, wood and low-e glass can block or disrupt communication signals. Thick walls and multi-room layouts also play a role in whether the signal is clear. Making sure the proper RF signal is amplified in all areas of the building to ensure communication and safety is key to compliance with the IFC regulations.
Adjusting, maintaining and repairing FCC (Federal Communications Commission) licensed radiotelephone transmitters requires special training and an FCC General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL). Choosing a reputable company to perform testing and installation of your responder system is important to ensure compliance.
Certain radio frequencies required for emergency services need to be amplified within your building. Signal boosters or DAS in the correct areas of the building ensure the safety of all occupants and ensure their safe passage out of the building in the event of an emergency.
Buildings need to have a 95% majority of minimum signal strength of -95 dBm. This signal strength is a standard used in emergency responder communication units. Boosting the signal through a DAS or signal boosters ensures this requirement is met.
ERRCS testing is required for compliance. Annual testing and maintenance of emergency systems is critical to ensure safety standards are kept and interference is kept to a minimum. A company that does testing will be licensed, certified and have detailed knowledge of the current codes.
NEMA 4 Enclosures
NEMA is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. NEMA 4 enclosures are required to protect equipment and personnel from hazards, weather, dirt and dust. It is important to have functioning equipment in case of emergency. Particulates damage equipment and degrade the signals, so protecting them with NEMA 4 enclosures ensure long-life and reliability.
Keeping calm in an emergency situation saves lives. Communication systems connect to fire panels or paging systems. While ERRCS is not a fire protection system, it works in conjunction with all the other systems in your building. Among them are systems to announce instructions to building occupants to ensure their safety.
Battery back-ups are required in case of power outages to the building. During an emergency, power may need to be turned off to all or parts the building. Having a reliable battery backup that runs emergency systems is crucial.
Certified equipment and signal boosters are required. Reliable signal boosters are our specialty. Wilson Amplifiers has a wide selection of boosters to fit any building needs. Call us at 1-800-919-7442 for a free consultation.
ERRCS testing and re-certification is key in public safety compliance. Wilson Amplifiers can help bring your building up to compliance with current standards. Our team specializes in working with you and local authorities to design a reliable public safety network signal and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
What We Can Do for Your Public Safety Compliance
The best way to find out whether you are in compliance with your local public safety building codes is to have a test done. The test will check the signal strength in all areas of the building and determine where amplification of the signal needs to occur. It will check each requirement of the IFC and NFPC codes and make recommendations on where you need to improve.
Wilson Amplifiers can perform ERRCS testing on your building and let you know if you need to add antennas or signal boosters to amplify the signal in parts of your building. Installing an ERRCS system that works cleanly and efficiently is our specialty. Special considerations are addressed to reduce interference and allow a clear signal to be transmitted. Improperly designed and deployed systems do more harm than good and cause problems with the FCC. From floor plan analysis, system design, and site surveys, we are experts in all areas of building installation. Call our experts today!
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