Quality – Public Safety Radio – Is it really important?

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“Quality doesn’t just happen.”

When it breaks – it’s cheaper to get a new one.  This is true for so many things these days from kitchen gadgets to printers and cell phones.  With products becoming cheaper and cheaper to manufacture, the quality standard seems to be based on the time it takes something to fail.  That being said…..wouldn’t you think the quality objective of something that is not supposed to fail…..say something your life depended on……should be very high.

Quality and survivability are extremely important to the First Responder.  When your life depends on it, there is no place for cutting corners or using unreliable parts or equipment.  That’s why Public Safety Radio systems are designed to be 99.9999% reliable (approximately 52 minutes of outage per year).  The Radio is one of the most important tools used by First Responders and is crucial for support and coordinating on-site efforts.  A delay in communications can have serious impacts to the outcome of an emergency situation.  The following link provides an excellent overview of fire communications and how indoor coverage fits into the picture. http://iafc.org/files/commComm_GuideRadioCommForFireServ.pdf

The Building Owner is now responsible for Public Safety Radio coverage inside buildings.  Although it may seem financially tempting to skimp on quality when  first hit with a new requirement –  it never pays in the long run.  As a preventive measure, the FCC has just issued new rules for commercial, industrial and Part 90 users of Booster Systems that go into effect March 2014.  These rules are accompanied with stiff fines starting at $100K. and a requirement to register equipment. http://wireless.fcc.gov/signal-boosters/index.html .  High Quality Systems, Monitoring and Testing are the Best Practices to ensure compliance with CA Fire Code Section 510  and NFPA 72 requirements as well as keep the FCC off your back.  https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/bsc.ca.gov/gov.ca.bsc.2013.09.pdf

What are the chances that my building will fail coverage tests?

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Video – will my building fail testing?  The physical and electrical obstacles between your building and the closest Radio Site is a huge variable – there is no way to be certain of the performance within a specific building without making measurements.

Practically speaking,  however, the majority of buildings should pass.  Public Safety Radio Systems usually consist of a limited number of Radio Sites covering a large geographic area.   These systems are designed to be extremely reliable and to provide good street level coverage in the range of -60 to -90dBm within the jurisdiction.  Typical building losses range from 11dB for small stuco buildings to 30dB+ for large concrete buildings.  With this in mind, you can anticipate that a large number of buildings will meet the  minimum signal level of  -95dBm and pass compliance testing.

Large buildings, heavy concrete structures, underground structures and high rise buildings may have indoor coverage issues.  The reflective and low-E glass used in new construction is not very radio friendly and significantly reduces the Radio Signal inside the building (just like the heat).   The outside signal levels, the type of construction and the actual contents of the building are all factors affecting indoor coverage.  Annual testing and spot testing, when changes are made to the building,  is the recommended approach to ensure compliance with Fire Codes.


Remain in Compliance with Fire Code

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Some awesome text in here…


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