ERRS: National Code Required Emergency Responders Radio System
By Chris Daniels, Technology Designer
The IFC and NFPA require building owners to provide first responder radio coverage in their facilities. Most jurisdictions require International Fire Code (IFC) or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliance before you can obtain an occupancy permit. Nearly every U.S. city and county has local ordinances that require buildings meet standards for first responder communication, and building owners are responsible for making sure their systems meet code.
Some of the organizations that supply standards adopted by most municipalities:
- National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
- International Code Council (ICC)
- International Fire Code (IFC)
- International Building Code (IBC)
- Ohio Building Code (OBC)
- Ohio Fire Code (OFC)
- City of Columbus Fire Code
Locally, the City of Columbus has published their own set of rather comprehensive guidelines for Emergency Responder Radio Systems (ERRS).
Knowing the ERRS requirements and preparing for them in the concept or programming phases of new construction and major renovations will help the building owner avoid costly refitting of the facility should the required signal testing determine that an Emergency Responders Radio System must be provided.
There are a number of ERRS requirements to be considered in the construction programming and design process.The ERRS system may be required to be independent of other radio systems such as DAS for cellular phone signal enhancement, WiFi and telemetry systems. The ERRS typically requires a donor antenna, which logically will be located on the roof of the building. The required headend equipment, UPS power, grounding cooling and access typically will need to locate on the top floor in close proximity to the donor antenna.
ERRS equipment is required to be separated from the rest of the building by a 2-hr rated fire barrier. ERRS signal enhancement will most likely be required below grade levels, so make providing a 2-hr rated equipment shaft from the roof to the lowest level a programming design consideration. This shaft can be stand alone, or could possibly be incorporated into a coordinated stack of rated telecommunication rooms. The ERRS is required to be monitored through the fire alarm panel. There are a number of additional required ERRS design considerations to coordinate with the various design disciplines.
Contracting with architects and engineers who are experienced and familiar with code required systems including ERRS is a great way to ensure your project is designed completely and correctly. Engaging a qualified, licensed ERRS design and testing company who is familiar with the local codes and has a resume of recently completed projects is key to successfully navigating the local code and system design requirements specifically associated with the ERRS. Companies experienced in and licensed to perform ERRS work can advise the building owner and construction design team as to the anticipated need for Emergency Responder Radio Systems, based on building construction types, proximities to municipal transmission sources and testing results from recent projects.
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