The Clarient Group
Public Safety Systems

INTRODUCTION

Public safety systems allow first responders (fire, police, EMS) to communicate with each other inside a building during emergencies, improving their ability to rescue people in the event of a fire or other emergency. In 2014, New York City mandated that these systems (called Auxiliary Radio Communication Systems or ARCS) be installed in all new building or major renovations over 75 feet in height. Many other municipalities have also begun to mandate these systems in new buildings or renovations. Additionally, the Federal Government has initiated a FirstNET system to provide the first nationwide broadband network related to public safety.

THE CHALLENGE

There are 5.6 Million commercial buildings in the U.S.[1]

First Responders need to be able to communicate into buildings from the outside; with each other while inside the buildings and; and with their command centers outside the buildings while they are responding. [1]

Critical communications can’t happen in many buildings across the U.S.[1]

Considering the impact of these symptoms, the NFPA and IFC have made a significant effort to engage the problems.

The NFPA is a United States trade association that creates and maintains private, copyrighted standards and codes for usage and adoption by local governments. This includes a range of publications that range from model building codes to equipment used by firefighters while engaging in hazardous material (hazmat) response, rescue response, and some firefighting.[2]

The International Fire Code (IFC) is a model code that regulates minimum fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings, facilities, storage and processes. The IFC addresses fire prevention, fire protection, life safety and the safe storage and use of hazardous materials in new and existing buildings, facilities, and processes. The IFC provides a total approach of controlling hazards in all buildings and sites, whether the hazard is indoors or outdoors.2

These standards address the issues of high reliability required for life-safety, mission-critical systems. With municipal budgets under stress, cities are increasingly leveraging IFC and NFPA codes in their ordinances rather than developing their own codes. The IFC and NFPA standards are therefore driving new installations of public safety DAS and include requirements.2

In 2009, IFC introduced Section 510 Emergency Responder Radio Coverage.

“Section 510.1 Emergency Responder Radio Coverage In Building” states “All building shall have approved radio coverage for emergency responders within the building”.[3]

This requirement has propagated throughout Building, Fire, and Electrical Codes.

Initially requirements were rather vague focusing solely on signal level.

With each new code release, the requirements have gained significant complexity addressing not only signal strength, but adding and expanding upon, signal quality, primary power requirements, secondary power requirements, fire rating requirements and pathway survivability requirements. 

The requirements and code interpretations are evolving rapidly and architects, construction managers, developers and building owners are tasked with navigating these complex and changing requirements to provide a code complaint Emergency Responder Radio Coverage system.


The Results

Without a full understanding of the technical, performance and code requirements for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage Systems (ERRCS) the building owner is at risk of costly mistakes and property occupation delays.

Building owners, and/or their representative, are responsible for submitting ERRCS designs for review and approval by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).  This can be a lengthy and trying process.

Following design approval by the AHJ the system must be installed per ALL applicable codes and pass inspection.

Finally, the ERRCS must be tested in coordination with the AHJ to ensure the system meets all performance criteria.

The Solution

Enlist the services of qualified Consulting Engineers.

The ERRCS is a highly specialized application and requires skilled, knowledgeable and experienced professionals to ensure successful design, installation, testing, and system approval.

ERRCS expert specialists will ensure the building owner has the highest probability of procuring a system which meets all requirements at a fair market value while enabling the building owner to avoid costly mistakes and delays.

HetNet Magazine published an article on February 29, 2016 titled “Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late: Pre-Wire for Cellular and Public-Safety In-Building Wireless (IBW) Coverage.”  This article recommends retention of an expert: “Retain an experienced in-building wireless expert-consultant and/or DAS integrator at the beginning of the design cycle in the same way that you involve your electrical, plumbing, and lighting contractors...”[4]

The wireless expert consultant should be able to effectively answer the following questions:4

  • Have you worked with public safety?
  • Have you worked with fire departments?
  • Have you worked with fire departments our size?
  • Have you worked with any fire-specific sub-systems such as alert systems and accountability systems?
  • Are you able to provide assistance to overcome budget issues, such as grant writing, understanding the bond process, and creative financing solutions?
  • What types of systems have resulted from your work?
  • What are some of your successes? What were some challenges? How did you overcome those challenges?
  • Who are your references, and how can we contact them?

TCG can provide comprehensive and affirmative answers to each of these queries.


[1] Safer Building Coalition http://saferbuildings.org/

[2] “What’s the right infrastructure for public-safety DAS?” May 21, 2015

[3] 2009 International Fire Code Section 510

[4] HetNet Magazine, February 29, 2016 “Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late: Pre-Wire for Cellular and Public-Safety In-Building Wireless (IBW) Coverage.”

TCG's experience with Public Safety Systems include:

One World Trade Center One Bryant Park (Bank of America Tower) Columbia University Manhattanville Campus

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