We count on strong, clear and reliable communication channels to work, learn and enjoy life. Building envelope systems provide protection from the elements but at the same time serve to reduce wireless connectivity to the outside world. The ever improving building and energy codes require more steel, more concrete, and low emissivity (Low-E) glass which effectively block cell phone signals as well as radio frequencies used by first responders.
In the event of an emergency, firefighters, police officers and other first responders must be able to connect with one another, no matter where they are located within a building. Without a reliable way to communicate, first responders may not be able to request backup or warn others of impending danger. That’s why emergency responder communication enhancement systems, also called BDA (bi-directional amplifier) systems, are so important—and why they will soon be required by Florida building codes and statutes. The requirements are actually nationally based as the key elements are described by the NFPA.
How BDA Systems Work
BDA systems are designed to enhance the radio bands that first responders use to communicate. A system of amplifiers and antennas are installed within the building structure to amplify and rebroadcast radio signals. With the BDA system, signals are consistently and reliably transported throughout the entire facility, even in spaces like garages, elevators and stairwells which would typically be considered “dead zones.”
Florida BDA System Requirements
In 2016, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) made significant changes to Florida building fire codes. In light of these updates, a two-way radio communication enhancement or signal booster system will be required in all buildings by 2022.
Keeping Your Florida Business in Compliance
If you’re in the process of building a new facility, it’s important to add a BDA system now, as retrofitting later will be more expensive. If your current building has “dead zones” for public safety radio signals, then you will need to install a BDA system to comply with the code changes in 2022.
Not sure if you’re in compliance? Reach out to the trusted experts at Colwill today.
More resources:AHJ BDA Presentation
RSI BDA Presentation
Florida Fire Code Exisiting Buildings Timetable
ESD BDA Presentation
Tampa ERRCES Code
Typical Riser Diagram