Fire Engineers trained in certified BDA systems are Life Safety experts in wake of new code changes.
Fire fighters, EMTs and law enforcement officers rely on two-way radio communications to coordinate emergency responses, evacuations and other life-saving operations. However, a 2017 survey of the International Fire Chiefs Association revealed that 98.5% of Fire Departments reported dead spots in buildings due to poor radio coverage. Building materials such as concrete, e-glass, metal structures and below-grade build-outs can create radio frequency (RF) obstruction and cause emergency radio communications to degrade or fail.
As a result, federal codes now require 99% radio coverage in critical building areas, which include fire command centers, the fire pump rooms, exit stairs, exit passageways, elevator lobbies, standpipe cabinets, sprinkler sectional valve locations, and other areas deemed critical by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJs). The best way to ensure code-compliant radio coverage is through installing an Emergency Radio Communications Enhancement System (ERCES)*, which consists of Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) signal boosters coupled with a Distributed Antenna System (DAS).
*ERCES is a Life Safety System as specified in NFPA, IFC, Electrical and Building codes, and must be installed and serviced only by certified and licensed Life Safety professionals.
However, not all stakeholders fully understand code changes, which allows for non-UL certified systems to be designed and installed by integrators other than certified Fire and Life safety engineers. This can have a significant impact on life safety, as well as create financial risks for building owners who may face retrofit costs once national code is adopted in their jurisdiction.
As Fire Engineers, you can best serve your customers and the general public by knowing the code, understanding BDA technology, being certified NICET Level 3-4, and having achieved a valid FCC General Radio Operator License. With these, you will be able to design, install, and integrate both the proper UL-listed ERCES and fire alarm systems knowing that IBC, IVC and NFPA code requirements are met.
For more information on BDA, or to request training on Honeywell’s UL-listed BDA solution, go to hwll.co/FireBDA