Having adequate indoor radio coverage “today”, does not necessarily ensure that you will have adequate coverage “tomorrow”. Growing trees, new construction and other changes in the local area can gradually or quickly affect the radio coverage in and around your building. Ensuring a building has adequate indoor radio coverage for Emergency Responders is not an easy objective and will face the same issues Cellular providers have in ensuring reliable coverage inside buildings. It’s not always a question of “if” you building needs improvement but often a question of “when or where” it needs improvement.
Everyone asks “How do you reduce the cost of complying with Emergency Responder Radio Coverage?”
No. 1 – Include the infrastructure necessary for public safety cabling in the building design. The cost of a few extra conduits and NEMA 4 boxes in the scale of things may be negligible compared to the cost of retrofitting a building sometime in the future. Infrastructure must include a 2 Hr rated riser and horizontal pathways meeting Level 1, 2 or 3 survivability. (With SIGECS – survivability is crucial.) Plan the space necessary for the equipment and allow for the connections to primary power, building ground and the fire alarm system.
No. 2 – Request indoor coverage testing from a 3rd Party Test Service that specializes in Public Safety Radio Coverage. Being able to determine if a system is needed in the early stages of construction can be critical in meeting the construction schedule. Preliminary measurements provide the basis for estimating final radio coverage and provides the information needed by the system designer. The accuracy of the preliminary measurements will naturally improve as the construction work is completed. Formal testing is performed after the building is finished to document the final radio coverage.
No. 3 – Make an agreement with a System Supplier for the technical requirements including design and commissioning. The Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRCS) is a fairly complex requirement and should be left to radio experts. Providing the cable pathway and demark locations for power, ground and alarms will reduce the cost from the System Supplier. (These are things that they, generally, do not perform.) Push for quality. The ERRCS is critical for life safety….survivability is a key objective and this can only be achieved trough high quality materials and installation. Use a 3rd Party Test Service to ensure system performance, to document the final coverage and to expedite acceptance by the Fire Marshall.
Following is a descriptive diagram showing the primary components making up a typical Public Safety system. ERRCS Primary Components