Emergency Responder Radio Coverage Systems

In an emergency, firefighters rely on good communication to coordinate their efforts and keep each other safe. They may approach a fire area deep within a building and realize they need additional personnel or equipment. If your building is especially large, has thick concrete walls, or has a lot of equipment that creates interference, the signal of a firefighter’s radio may not be able to reach the outside to contact the dispatch center or other responders.

The result, in many cases, is firefighters need to make their way back outside the building to find a spot where their radios will work. This wastes critical time that could be spent containing the fire and minimizing the damage to your property. A worse scenario is that firefighters may find themselves trapped or dealing with an injury, and they cannot contact anyone for assistance or even give their location.

The solution is the installation of an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRCS). It is a specialized distributed antenna system that extends radio coverage to all areas of your building. Since 2009, the International Fire Code (IFC, Section 510) has required all buildings, new and existing, to meet certain criteria for radio coverage.

The first step is having your building tested. During a test, a certified technician will walk around your entire facility and test the minimum signal strength in each space. If a signal of -95dBm is not measured in at least 95% of the building, you may be required to install an ERRCS. The system consists of a central antenna, a bi-directional amplifier, distributed antennae, coaxial cables, batteries, and other components, along with training and monitoring. The investment is not insignificant, but it is a system that has proven to save lives and property.

For information about testing your building for proper radio coverage, or to have an ERRCS designed for your building, please contact Richard Koval, PE, LEED AP at (814) 237-2180 or rik@ba-inc.com.