On October 20, 2015 key stakeholders representing all sides of the public safety wireless communication gathered to discuss revisions to the International Code Council’s International Fire Code for the 2018 Cycle. At the table were representatives for AHJ’s, equipment manufacturers, systems integrators, carriers, REIT’s and building developers. All brought a unique perspective to the table, which provide fertile ground for meaningful dialogue. Together, the group examined and discussed several sections of the Code that impact Public Safety Communications.
Here’s a quick video featuring some of the participants weighing in on the meeting:
Some of the hot topics of the meeting included:
510.4.1.1 Minimum signal strength into the building
510.4.1.2 Minimum signal strength out of the building
What should the minimum required signal strength into and out of the building be? And how should that be measured? As it is written, “A minimum inbound signal strength of -95 dBm shall be receivable within the building.” Also, “A minimum signal strength of -95 dBm shall be received by the agency’s radio system when transmitted from within the building.” Some held that using dBm as a quality measure was insufficient because dBm only addresses signal strength, not interference or noise, thus rendering it an incomplete assessment of usability of the signal. Determining a minimum dBm may also be incomplete as it’s effectiveness is subjective to the hearing of the AHJ. DAQ was also discussed as a possible measure. Lastly, what about the distinction between voice and data communications? This section was the focus of much discussion among the different stakeholders around the table.
510.4.2.3 Standby power
In a time of crisis, how much standby power is actually needed for emergency responder radio coverage systems? Do you need at least 24 hours worth? More? Less? And should the source be a battery? How about a generator? This language can have a significant impact on the bottom line for building developers. How can we be sufficiently safe without mandating superfluous expenses? The table came up with an adequate minimum required number of hours along with a more thorough definition of what the standby source shall consist of.
Other sections of the existing code that were discussed included those that touched upon permit requirements, amplification systems and components, the acceptance test procedure and several other sections.
There were also several new sections that were created for consideration that included topics such as: system monitoring, data network performance, as-built system documentation, converged systems, and more.
The ideas and concepts that were gathered at this meeting will be included in the Safer Building Coalition’s formal proposal to be submitted for consideration in the 2018 code development process for the ICC. The deadline for that submission is January 2016.
Before SBC’s formal proposal is submitted, however, we will be holding a virtual meeting to recap the full details of what was discussed and decided at the Oct. 21 Chicago Code Meeting. This will be an invitation only event mainly for those that were present at the meeting in Chicago. However, if you would like to be considered to receive an invitation please fill out a request form here: SBC Virtual Code Meeting Invitation Request Form
This will be your final opportunity before this proposal is submitted to voice your concerns and suggestions for the code proposal. As mentioned above, one word or number can make a significant difference in how public safety wireless communication looks in the near future. Be sure to claim your seat at the table. Join the Safer Buildings Coalition and let your voice be heard.