Public Safety ERCES

Powerful Signal provides ERRC solutions that meet NFPA & IFC building codes.

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Understanding Public Safety Requirements

Construction materials used in large commercial buildings—concrete, steel, glass, and insulation—can absorb or reflect VHF and UHF radio signals. This can present a significant problem for first responders, who rely on land mobile radios (LMRs) to communicate in and around a building during a fire, a medical emergency, a law-enforcement incident, or other crisis event.

An emergency responder communication enhancement system (ERCES) enables communication for first responders by providing emergency responder radio coverage (ERRC) inside a building. The ERCES is a bi-directional amplifier (BDA) that receives radio signals, amplifies them, and re-transmits them. ERCES components are fire- and water-resistant and include battery backup power.

A public safety communications system is often a code requirement before a building owner can receive an occupancy permit from state and local authorities. Many older buildings of significant size are also required to retroactively install an ERCES to bring the building up to code.

The building codes and other requirements governing public safety DAS (distributed antenna systems) often vary between jurisdictions; these regional differences can lead to confusion and delays for building owners, contractors, and developers. Knowing how and where to turn for expertise and information will save you time and money when selecting an effective and reliable public safety ERCES.

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What are NFPA and IFC Standards?

The National Fire Protection Association Alarm and Signaling Codeexternal link icon (NFPA) and the International Fire Codeexternal link icon (IFC) are widely accepted standards for public safety communication systems. The specific requirements for your building may vary, depending on the requirements of the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

Code requirements typically include:

  • 99% wireless coverage in critical areas such as fire pump rooms, exit stairs, exit passages, and elevator lobbies.
  • 90% coverage in all non-critical areas.
  • Wireless signal must be on the spectrum used by local authorities.
  • A 12-hour battery backup power supply source to keep the system operational during power outages.
  • A monitoring system that alerts you to system malfunctions or power failures.

Working closely with a qualified public safety DAS integrator will ensure that your building has a reliable and cost-effective ERCES for first responders.

Commercial DAS vs. Public Safety DAS

A public safety DAS system is not a replacement for a commercial cellular booster system; these systems operate separately and under different FCC guidelines. In new buildings, both commercial and public safety systems can be installed at the same time, saving you time and money.

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Features to Look for in an ERCES

There are a few things you should know about public safety DAS in order to make an informed decision about which system will best meet your needs and offer the best possible solution for first responders in an emergency.

  1. The National Electrical Manufacturer Association (NEMA) specifies that communication equipment most be watertight, waterproof, and “exclude at least 65 GPM of water from a one-inch nozzle delivered from a distance not less than 10 feet for five minutes.” All equipment enclosures for public safety communications systems must meet NEMA’s enclosure standards to minimize exposure and damage in the event of an emergency.
  2. Your system needs to include monitoring alarms that notify you of power or battery failure, antenna network malfunctions, and low battery capacity for backup. The level of monitoring required is dictated by the fire marshal or AHJ in your local jurisdiction.
  3. NFPA and IFC both require −95 dBm signal strength within the coverage area of the system across all frequencies, including high-frequency VHF. This may require a greater number of interior antennas for 700 or 800 MHz to achieve the proper amount of coverage and signal strength.
  4. Your system should accommodate the need for frequency updates, in case your local authority decides to switch to different bands or expand the bands they use.

Why Choose Powerful Signal?

Powerful Signal has been providing world-class service for over a decade. Our business and public-sector customers keep coming back to us for cellular DAS (distributed antenna system) solutions for new buildings and modifications to existing buildings. As part of our business practice:

  • We maintain all system design records.
  • Our customers have an assigned, personal support representative.
  • We work with the best equipment manufacturers and installation partners.
  • We stock and maintain our own inventory.