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Regulatory requirements for two-way Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) are specified in National Fire Protection Association NFPA 72® (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code) Chapter 24. NFPA 72®, and related standards. They involve the deployment of Auxiliary Radio Communication Systems (ARCS) or Emergency Responders Radio Coverage Systems (ERRCS) in thousands of high-rise buildings in order to provide radio coverage for First Responders. Such a system must integrate with existing portable radios used by First Responders to ensure total and seamless communications during an emergency.

NFPA 72®

Many public-safety and building-code officials realized that an effective national standard for ARCS was needed to ensure uniformity, guarantee effectiveness and encourage widespread adoption. Toward that end, the NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code was published in 2010 and updated in 2013 and 2016. NFPA 72® provides safety provisions to meet fire detection, signaling, and emergency communications demands. One of the goals is to make available a structured approach for the development and implementation of emergency communication strategies.

Chapter 24 (Emergency Communication Systems) provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to fire code regulation and hazard management and offers specific recommendations for performance, testing and monitoring of the radio enhancement system.

In regard to Two-Way Radio Communications Enhancement Systems (Section 24.5.2), the following are required:

  • The system must operate without causing interference to other parts of the public-safety radio system.

  • Critical areas of buildings must have 99% coverage and general areas must have 90% coverage.

  • Minimum inbound and outbound signal strengths of -95 dBm are required.[1]

  • The system must be capable of retransmitting all relevant public-safety frequencies.

  • At least two independent and reliable power supplies must be included.

  • A 12-hour battery backup ensuring 100% system operation is necessary.

  • An automatic-monitoring system with a dedicated panel in the fire command center of the building is mandatory.

  • Ability to add system frequencies.


Fire Department of New York Standards

In September 2014 the Fire Department of New York adopted the provisions of NFPA 72® of 2010 under Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York (1RCNY 3616-04).

The FDNY has adapted NFPA 72® with the following very strict and complex requirements:

  • Must cover 97% of building critical areas

  • Must cover 97% of total floor space

  • Perimeter: one-block radius

  • Uplink vs. downlink: audio symmetry with minimum quality of 3.4 DAQ (speech understandable with repetition rarely required).

  • Frequencies: fire radio frequencies (UHF)

  • Signaling: rebroadcasting to all receiving radios

  • Power: 12-hour battery backup

  • Fire Command Center, 2642 key controlled

  • Emergency transmission interrupt

  • Retransmit or display firefighter’s IDs

  • Ability to withstand 90o C heat

Should a building fail to meet the necessary coverage requirements, NYC building code requires radio amplification, as well as the antenna and cabling infrastructure to deliver the crucial life safety communication capabilities. Buildings erected prior to the 2008 building code – that cannot support this required level of radio coverage – must be equipped with a radiating cable system and/or a distributed antenna system (DAS) with FCC certified signal boosters. These concepts are horrendously expensive.




[1] Signal strength is the ratio in decibels of the measured power referenced to one milliwatt. This is based upon the existing coverage levels of public safety communication systems.

Regulatory Requirements

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