The requirement for new buildings over a certain size to have an Emergency Responder Radio Communication System (ERRCS) is more well known than it was three years ago. However, many architects, general contractors, developers, and owner/operators still don’t sufficiently understand the requirement to appropriately prepare for it.
How to Know if an ERRCS is Required
Compounding the general lack of knowledge about the need for an ERRCS is the reality that the local Authority Having Jurisdiction’s (AHJ) interpretation of the relevant NFPA and IFC codes varies by location. Between the frequency bands that are necessary to be amplified in the building and the widely divergent document submittal process, it is difficult to provide a standard price for an ERRCS in a building.
These facts come into play when integrators like IBWS are asked to provide an ERRCS proposal for a building not yet constructed. When we’re asked to provide the proverbial ballpark figure for a system, our answer is often: “I hope testing shows that you don’t need a system at all!” This saves a lot of money but also indicates the outdoor radio network is sufficiently architected to provide excellent indoor radio coverage.
Creating the Preliminary Design
The reality is that testing often indicates that an ERRCS is required. Unfortunately, the test is typically conducted when 95% of the building is complete. The prudent course of action is to have a preliminary building design completed to ensure that the necessary infrastructure for an ERRCS is in place before testing. This means that items like conduit, fire-rated chases, roof penetrations and IDF/MDF space and power details have been specified and constructed into the bones of the building.
This Preliminary Design can typically be done with PDF plans of the property and requires the ERRCS engineer to understand the specifics of the local code. The Preliminary Design document is then reviewed with the various stakeholders to ensure the recommendations are understood by all parties. This will oftentimes necessitate various construction modifications to the building.
Of course, real work and cost are involved in completing a Preliminary Design. But without it, the potential modifications required to a building that is 95% complete (when testing shows an ERRCS is required) can be enormous and extremely expensive. It is always prudent to spend a little money upfront to ensure you don’t have to break the bank at the back end.
For more information about preliminary design and how IBWS can help you navigate ERRCS, you can visit our website and fill out the contact form.