State-of-the-art emergency responder communication systems are critical in daily operations and emergency situations alike. Natural disasters, fires, large crime scenes, or even everyday accidents require a swift and reliable system for first responders. It’s no secret that the quantity and severity of mass shootings in the U.S. is on an upward trajectory that shows no sign of abatement. Many of these horrific events occur inside schools, hospitals and office buildings where First Responder radio systems have coverage challenges.
The solution to in-building radio coverage problems is best accomplished through the use of what’s called an Emergency Responder Radio Communication System, or ERRCS.
An ERRCS is quite similar to an Over-the-Air Cellular DAS. It used a donor antenna to receive the radio signals from the local first-responder network. These signals operate on private frequencies. The radio signals are then re-amplified in the building in areas that do not get adequate signal.
As a general contractor, construction project manager, or building owner, you may know that many jurisdictions now require NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) or IFC (International Fire Code) compliant public safety and emergency responder coverage (ERRC) as a prerequisite for getting an occupancy permit. You may even be confident that your building requires a public safety coverage solution (ERRCS) of some kind. But understanding the details of how coverage is tested and how it can be improved is complicated and varies greatly by jurisdiction. Local rules are mandated by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), oftentimes the Fire Marshall.
Jurisdiction mandates will determine what frequencies need to operate inside the building (800/700 MHz but occasionally VHF and UHF frequencies) and at what locations and strength. Generally, there will be system-testing requirements to get an initial permit and a required annual maintenance contract to ensure the system remains operational.
Building tenants and property owners are often looking for qualified resources to assist with the technical aspects of an ERRCS. At In-Building Wireless Solutions, we assist with education of the appropriate fire codes and technology solutions currently available. Working with public safety authorities, we can inform your staff of the current jurisdiction mandates, test the current signal strength readings of existing buildings in your area, and If required design a cost-effective system that will comply with local codes.
We work on behalf of owners to understand the exact requirements and minimize the costs associated with implementation. It is often the case that testing of the building and discussion with the AHJ can substantially reduce the costs associated with implementing an ERRCS.