The requirements for and installation of an Emergency Responder Radio Communication System (ERRCS) in a specific locale are governed by various codes and enforced by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). An ERRCS, unlike a Cellular Distributed Antenna System (DAS), is a mandated Life Safety system, not an amenity. So how do you determine what code applies?

Attend a Class

I recently sat through a two-day Fire Protection Education ( class entitled “NFPA 72-2022 & New CBC/CFC 2022 Section 907 Code Changes”. The organization’s mission is to “provide professional, quality and engaging education– on the most current fire and life-safety codes — for the fire protection and elevator safety community.” If you’re a Fire Alarm System professional, AHJ, Architect, or Fire Plan Review inspector, they’ve got informative classes well worth attending. That being said, it remains a bit of a mystery to unravel the alphabet-soup list of organizations and codes that determine and regulate the design and installation of Life Safety systems in the United States.

California Building Code

The “CBC” in the course title is the California Building Code. Per their website: “California Building Code 2022 Adopts With Amendments: International Building Code 2021 (IBC 2021)”. This is a common practice in the world of code: a state or city adopts a particular national or International code organization’s specific version of code, or some provisions in it.  The “CFC” in the course title is the California Fire Code and likewise, per their website: “California Fire Code 2022 Adopts With Amendments: International Fire Code 2021 (IFC 2021).”

National Fire Protection Association

In terms of “NFPA”, or the National Fire Protection Association, the applicable code in California is the 2016 edition, which is part of the 2019 CBC and CFC code. The 2019 edition of NFPA 72 was never adopted in California in the 2019 code cycle and will not be adopted in the new 2022 CBC and CFC codes, which will become effective on 1/1/2023. Instead, it was decided by the state of California to adopt the 2022 edition and skip the 2019 edition. In term of ERRCS, NFPA 72 has required that it “shall be designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with NFPA 1221.” The 2022 NFPA 72 will replace 1221 with 1225. One notable change from 1221 to 1225 is that is now defines critical areas to include elevators.  Critical areas, by definition, require 99% floor area radio coverage.

San Diego ERRCS Requirements

So, what codes actually apply to an ERRCS. For San Diego, the ERRCS requirements document starts thusly: “This Technical Bulletin provides guidelines for compliance with the requirements in Section 510 of the California Fire Code (CFC) and Section 918 of the California Building Code (CBC) for emergency responder radio coverage systems (ERRCSs). In addition, these systems shall be designed and installed per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1221 and the California Electrical Code (CEC).” For the City of Riverside: “Riverside Municipal Code Chapter 16.36 and 2019 California Fire, Code Section 510 and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1221. The purpose of this section is to require minimum standards to ensure a reasonable degree of reliability for radio communications of the City’s Public Safety Emergency Services from within certain buildings and structures within the City of Riverside. System shall comply with all the requirements of the Riverside Municipal Code, Chapter 16.36 and the 2019 California Fire Code, Section 510.”

Contact Us

You need an experienced company that understands how these codes vary and what processes need to be followed to ensure the ERRCS is designed and installed per the code. There are any number of companies that can perform this for you. Our advice is to find one you can work with that has the experience, knowledge and required certification (e.g., FCC GROL) to ensure a successful project. Contact us today to learn more about our services and to get your ERRCS designed and installed properly. You can get in touch by filling out the contact form on our website.