Complying with IFC-510 and NFPA-72 Regulations
In 2009, the International Code Council (ICC 51) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA-72) instituted requirements in their fire codes for radio coverage for first responders in buildings.
The ICC and NFPA wanted to make sure that emergency first responders—police, firefighters, and EMTs—would be able to communicate inside and outside any building, facility or structure without losing coverage.
Building contractors must ensure adequate emergency responder radio coverage (ERRC) in new structures or on renovation projects. If local fire codes find that ERRC is not adequate, then contractors are required to install either a simple Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) or a complete Public Safety Distributed Antenna System (PSR DAS) to provide coverage to first responders.
But it is the responsibility of property owners and building managers to continue to show proof through BDA/DAS system recertification.
Learn what you need to know to stay compliant with ERRC fire codes below.
ERRC Code Enforcement Is Recent
Local municipalities have just recently begun to enforce ERRC requirements. Many building managers have been surprised in recent years to receive a notice from their fire marshal asking about their Public Safety Radio DAS systems for ERRC.
Not only are many of these managers and property owners completely unaware that they need to have their in-building DAS certified, they have no idea who to call for help.
MCA works with many building owners and property managers on the installation and maintenance of their DAS systems.
What the ERRC System Requirement Means
The ICC (via code IFC-510) and NFPA (via code NFPA-72) require emergency coverage radio systems to be tested on an annual basis, or when any significant structural changes are made to a building.
They want to make sure that your ERRC system is still up to code.
Years ago, not many municipalities took the ICC/NFPA requirements seriously, but that is quickly changing. Now local governments are required to adhere to these standards.
Municipalities ask building managers and property owners to prove each year that their:
- Acceptance test procedures for their PSR DAS systems are upheld.
- A backup power source can support communication for up to an hour.
Why Do ERRC Codes Exist?
If you choose not to comply with codes, you risk hefty fines and fire marshals refusing to answer a building’s emergency call for help. But the real reason you need to keep your ERRC system up to code is to protect first responders and people in your building.
In the minutes before the fall of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, a police helicopter hovering overhead radioed in the following message: “I don’t think this [the South Tower] has much longer to go. Evacuate all people within the area of the second building!”
Unfortunately, the firefighters and police officers on the ground failed to heed their warning. Their radio systems failed to receive that critical message.
Twenty-one minutes later, the South Tower collapsed.
Beyond any penalties and fines you may receive as a property owner or building manager, the risk of not complying with these codes is too great.
How Can I Ensure that My ERRC System Complies with Code?
In most cases, property owners typically do not know the original installer and manufacturer of their DAS system.
But that doesn’t matter: any DAS-qualified technician with appropriate certifications can monitor your system and deal with maintenance issues.
Keeping up with your annual code is actually quite simple: a technician will come out to conduct a coverage test, make sure your amplifier and backup system are functioning properly, and provide you with documentation of proof of compliance.
For building managers and owners trying to remain compliant with local fire codes, the easiest course of action is to contact a company with experience in the installation, testing, and maintenance of BDA/DAS systems.
Trust MCA for Your All Your ERRC System Needs
As your trusted experts in the design, installation, testing, engineering, optimization, and maintenance of all types of Distributed Antenna Systems, MCA is here to support you with your ERRC certification and recertification needs.