Public Safety DAS Compliance
Do you know if emergency responders are able to communicate in every part of your building? According to a survey of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, "in a large percentage of buildings, critical communication can't happen."
To ensure all occupants of buildings remain safe, it is critical to have a reliable system in place that allows first responders to communicate without interruption in service. Radio communication systems for first responders are lifelines and essential during an emergency—however, building materials can frequently block wireless signals.
In-building communication systems are designed to overcome this issue and provide continuous two-way radio coverage. This can be done with the help of Public Safety DAS (Distributed Antenna System) also called ERRC (Emergency Responder Radio Coverage).
Many cities in the U.S. have enacted local ordinances and codes making in-building coverage for first responders mandatory. Since 2009 the International Fire Code (IFC) has required all new buildings to have approved radio coverage. In Seattle and Oregon state, the requirement is further defined for any building over 50,000 square feet (about half the area of a Manhattan city block).
Public Safety DAS Explained
Public Safety DAS is a series of antennas throughout a building or structure that provide enhanced two-way radio service, evenly distributing the amplified signals. This system ensures that first responders can seamlessly communicate within the building and with those outside without interruption in service during an emergency.
Since this communication has its own radio antennae system, it is not impacted if telephone lines or cellular towers fail, which can happen during emergencies or natural disasters.
Requirements for Public Safety DAS
It is mandated that a building provides adequate coverage as outlined by the IFC and NFPA regulations set in place by the local municipality. Emergency Responder Radio coverage was first added to IFC in 2009 as section 510. 510.1 states that the radio signal strength on the inside of the building needs to match the signal strength on the outside.
The IFC dictates that 95% coverage is needed everywhere, and NFPA dictates that 99% of coverage is required in critical areas such as equipment rooms, basements, and stairwells. These regulations must be met to facilitate the wireless communication needs of first responders.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1225 and Section 510 of the IFC have also outlined annual testing requirements for any building with Public Safety DAS installed to ensure dependable emergency communications. While the required testing is annual, verifying testing frequency with your local AHJ is recommended.
This means every existing and new building must be maintained to meet the minimum reliability level for first responder communication as a condition of occupancy. If a building or structure fails to meet these regulations, it could lose its certificate of occupancy.
PSI Can Help with Public Safety DAS Compliance
To comply with the codes and ordinances, many states are making it mandatory for a Public Safety DAS expert to test all new and existing buildings and structures to ensure they pass all the code requirements.
At PSI, our DAS inspection experts can provide annual testing to ensure your systems provide reliable emergency communication and comply with NFPA Standard 1221. The PSI testing certification includes:
- RF survey – 20/40 grid test
- Verification of BDA (Bi-Directional Amplifier) gain and filter settings
- DAS headend and main fire panel supervisory alarm testing
- Backup battery or power supply 1-hour run test and physical inspection of active/passive components
- A recertification compliance report will be provided to the local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) with 1 hard copy to be stored on site.
Don't wait for a 30-day AHJ notice—contact PSI today to schedule the annual inspection of your Public Safety DAS system. Our experienced team will help you navigate the code requirements and will provide you with testing you can rely on.