Lack of an In-Building Public Safety Radio System Will Delay or Stop Certificate of Occupancy

The HetNet Forum offers advice to developers, building owners and related construction trades on how to avoid non-compliance

Firemen on Phone

  • Be sure to understand the local code requirements and permitting process during the design and budgeting phase of your project

Code requirements are mandated by the state or local jurisdiction. The International Code Council publishes the International Fire Code (IFC), which contains recommended specifications for the design, installation and testing of in-building radio coverage in its Section 510. Many jurisdictions adopt or refer to IFC 510 or to National Fire Protection Association standards NFPA 72 and NFPA 1221 for guidance on issuing local codes for public-safety radio coverage in buildings. It is important to engage the local Code Officials, Building and Inspections Departments Early in the process.

  • In-Building Public Safety Radio Systems are mandatory; plan appropriately

Build the appropriate timelines into your project plan. Ideally the required infrastructure such as pathways and conduits should be planned and installed before the walls and ceilings are closed up. Waiting until too late can significantly drive up costs.

  • Know your financial responsibilities

The cost and continuing maintenance of an In-Building Public Safety Communication System is borne by the building owner nearly 100% of the time. The rare exception is for public mega-venues where third-party operators may deploy a public-safety system in conjunction with a commercial cellular system.

  • Engage Professional Assistance

Work with experienced professional services firms and Integrators who have done recent In-Building Public Safety Communication System work, preferably with references in the target jurisdiction. Systems should be engineered based on measurements and testing or computer modeling within the building. There is a risk that an improperly designed system will feed back on itself and cause interference to the public-safety radio network, so it is critical that the system be designed, installed and tested by qualified professionals.

  • Also understand importance of having in-building Cellular Services

Today, more than 80 percent of 911 calls are made from mobile phones, and an estimated 64 percent of those calls are made indoors. Having robust cellular service is imperative to connecting those calls. This is particularly critical in common areas, stairways, parking garages, and basement areas.

In campus environments like Education, Healthcare, or Corporate campuses, text-alert systems are common for crises and emergency management. Without adequate cellular coverage, these outbound contacts fail.

Commercial cellular systems use the same technologies and supply ecosystem as In-Building Public Safety Communication Systems. In most cases, there can be significant cost savings realized by designing and installing these systems at the same time, potentially sharing common infrastructure such as pathways (penetrations, conduits, raceways), power, space, cooling, cabling, antennas, and even active components.

For more on in-building wireless consider reading this article here.

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