I am frequently asked “When can the ERRCS coverage test be performed to get our fire permit sign-off?”
“Preliminary Coverage Tests” can be performed at any time during construction and/or after major milestones, however consideration must be given to the attenuation that will be caused by the remaining work. Preliminary measurements also provide insight into which floors of a building are likely to require improvement. There is considerable value in making informed decisions early in a project. Do you plan on passing with “native” radio coverage or should you apply for a permit and install and ERRCS? Please remember, anything placed in the RF signal path will attenuate the signal and any test performed prior to completion of work is considered to be a “preliminary measurement”.
To get the most accurate data before completing the work, it is recommended that the exterior of the building be closed an that fire doors are installed in the stairwells. The further along the interior is to completion (HVAC, Electrical, Walls), the more accurate the results will be. The ceilings should be unfinished pending determination of the cable pathway. Following these guidelines will give you the best indication of whether you have sufficient coverage and allow sufficient time to install an ERRCS should it be required. Preliminary Test Reports are an important step and establish the reason for installing an ERRCS and the basis for system design. Please note: Preliminary measurements do not need to be a full grid test and can be performed on a sampling basis. The purpose is to gather information.
A formal “Acceptance Test” is performed after the permitted work has been completed and will document the “real life” or “final” radio coverage. Acceptance Tests may be required after completing the “core” building and after each “improvement” permit that affects the physical structure, the use of the building or the occupancy.
- When the intention is to meet the fire code requirements with “native” radio coverage – the “Benchmark Test” is the “Acceptance Test” The Benchmark Test is performed to the fire code requirements and documents the radio coverage in a building at a certain date/time. Note: a full Benchmark Test is often performed prior to beginning construction to document the starting point.
- When compliance is accomplished with an ERRCS – the Acceptance Test is a two-stage process consisting of Equipment Validation and Coverage Validation tests.
- Equipment Validation is performed before a system is placed on the air and confirms that it is provisioned correctly, has appropriate gain settings, does not cause interference and has sufficient antenna isolation. Backup power and alarm operation are also validated to ensure operation in the event of power outages and the 24×7 monitoring required by the fire code. The installation is also visually inspected and any obvious deficiencies that could affect long term operation are noted.
- Coverage Validation is performed after the major items causing attenuation or interference to the radio signals have been completed. Coverage validation documents the final radio coverage within the building and portable-to-portable radio operation through the amplifier and macro system.
“Annual Tests” have the same requirements as the initial Acceptance Test and verify that the system continues to operate as initially installed. Annual testing is required to obtain a renewable permit from the AHJ to operate the ERRCS.
RFSignalman has developed the enforcement and acceptance processes used in many jurisdictions in California. The only focus and objective of our company is to ensure the quality and performance of Emergency Responder Radio Systems.
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