Key Considerations – In Building Public Safety Systems

Public Safety Fire Communications - Safer Buildings Coalition

Public Safety Fire Communications – Safer Buildings Coalition

What is it?

A Public Safety Communications System is a wireless communications system used by first-responder and emergency services personnel such as police, fire, emergency medical, homeland security, and disaster response agencies to prevent or respond to incidents or situations that pose a threat to people or property.

An In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster System ensures that radio signals can penetrate all areas of buildings, including areas that are especially difficult for RF to penetrate such as stairwells, elevators, basements, and thick-walled or shielded areas.

Key Considerations for Building Owners, Enterprise and related Construction Trades

Know your local Building and Fire Codes and Local Ordinances

These requirements are mandated by the International Code Council Fire Code (IFC) Section 510 as well as the NFPA 72 and NFPA 1221. Local jurisdictions vary. Some adopt these model codes as written, some modify these model codes, and some areas have not yet adopted. Be sure to understand the local code requirements and permitting process during the design and budgeting phase of your project.

Risk of Non-Compliance

For new construction or remodeling, failure to meet code could mean that a Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued. For existing buildings there is the risk of code violations that must be corrected.

Engage the Code Officials and Building and Inspections Departments Early

Build the appropriate timelines into your project plan. Ideally the required infrastructure such as pathways and conduits should be planned and installed before the walls and ceilings are closed up. Waiting until too late can significantly drive up costs.


The cost of an In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster System is born by the building owner nearly 100% of the time. The rare exception is for public mega-venues where third party operators may deploy a public safety system in conjunction with a cellular repeater system.

Engage Professional Assistance

Work with experienced professional services and Integrators who have done recent In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster System work, preferably with references in the target jurisdiction.

How About Cellular Service?

Today, so many calls originating within a building are made from mobile phones and not land lines. This includes calls to 911. This is particularly critical in common areas, stairways, parking garages, and basement areas. If cellular service is poor in any of these areas the 911 call may never be made. In campus environments like Education, Healthcare, or Corporate campuses, text-alert systems are common for crises and emergency management. Without adequate cellular coverage these outbound contacts fail. Cellular repeater systems use the same technology and supply ecosystem as In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster Systems. In most cases there can be significant cost savings realized by designing and installing these systems at the same time, potentially sharing common infrastructure such as pathways (penetrations, conduits, raceways), power, space, cooling, cabling, antennae, and even active components.

Key Considerations for Building and Fire Code Officials (sometimes called AHJs, or Authority Having Jurisdiction)

Publish your Local Standards and Permitting Procedures

Unlike sprinkler system or electrical codes, In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster Systems are relatively new requirements and much of the market and industry is navigating a steep learning curve. Make sure your requriements are clearly documented, and that pre-construction permitting procedures and documentation requirements are clearly defined and published. Otherwise, expect to field many phone calls to answer the same questions over and over again.

Specify Your Testing / Inspection Procedures and Documentation Requirements

Some agencies are staffed such that on-site inspections are feasible. Some jurisdictions prefer that the owner engage a qualified third-party professional services company to test and document system performance and compliance to code. Make your requirements known in advance.

Balance Objectives

Make sure the requirements in your jurisdiction meet the need of ensuring critical communications without imposing unnecessary additional costs. The NFPA and ICC routinely engage experts from both the Fire Professional community as well as from the technical industry to continually adapt model codes that accomplish this balance.

Participate in Industry Forums that Provide Training and Public Information

Groups like the Safer Buildings Coalition provide training, seminars, and other opportunities and context for engaging the In-Building Public Safety Communication Booster System supply ecosystem, and also to get the latest information about new and proposed fire codes as well as new FCC regulations and other requirements.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Graybar Hosts In-Building Public Safety Seminar

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Graybar – In-Building Public Safety Communications Seminar

Safer Buildings Coalition and our Executive Director Alan Perdue, CFO, FM, MIFireE are proud to support Graybar in next week’s seminar in Naperville: DAS/Public Safety Seminar on Friday, April 28. This seminar will be of interest to Public Safety Agencies (Fire, Police, EMT), Building Officials, Architects, Engineers, and Design Professionals. The meeting will be held at Top Golf located at 3211 Odyssey Ct., Naperville. The program will begin at 8:30 am.

The program is on In-Building Public Safety Communications, and will be Chief Alan Perdue, Executive Director-Safer Buildings Coalition. This seminar will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about radios and phones getting out of larger buildings in an emergency, so invite your police agencies.

GOLFThe agenda for this morning class will consist of Code Requirements for Public Safety Radio Communications; General Public Communication vs. Public Safety Communication Systems; Prescriptive Code vs. Performance Based Code; New Code Changes; Basic System Topology/Design; Developing Specifications and System Layout; System Commissioning and Testing Best Practices

This seminar will be of interest to Public Safety Agencies (Fire, Police, EMT), Building Officials, Architects, Engineers, and Design Professionals

Our instructor, Chief Alan Perdue, began his public safety journey as a volunteer firefighter in 1977 and retired in February 2013. Chief Perdue is credentialed as a Chief Fire Officer and Fire Marshal through the Center for Public Safety Excellence Commission for Professional Credentialing.

Chief Perdue currently serves as the Executive Director of the Safer Buildings Coalition, a Commissioner on the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission for Professional Credentialing, a member of the International Accreditation Services Technical Advisory Committee for Fire & Life Safety Departments, a member of the International Code Councils Codes & Standards Council and as an Elected Guilford County, NC Commissioner.

Among many other positions held by Chief Perdue, he served eight years as the International Director representing Fire & Life Safety on the International Association of Fire Chiefs Board of Directors and twelve years as the Governor’s fire service appointee to the North Carolina State Building Code Council.

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John Foley Selected as VP for Safer Buildings Coalition

Advancing Safer Buildings Coalition’s Mission


John Foley – VP Operations

The Safer Buildings Coalition announced today the selection of John Foley as Vice President, Operations. The VP of Operations is the key operations leader of the Safer Buildings Coalition, reporting to the Board of Directors.

John brings over forty years of telecommunications industry experience to the Safer Buildings Coalition, including key roles at Henkels and McCoy (major DAS Integrator), Level 3 Communications, MFS Telecom, MCI. John was a founding employee of XO Communications.

“We are delighted to have John serve as Vice President, Operations of the Safer Buildings Coalition,” said Board President Jeff Hipchen. “John brings a strong combination of sales, marketing, technical knowledge, and business planning experience to the Safer Buildings team,” said Hipchen. “He will lead our efforts to serve the evolving needs of our members and the public, and to advance Safer Building’s mission.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization and to work with the Safer Buildings Coalition Board as we set out to advance policies, best practices, and industry collaboration to ensure that our nation’s first responders have access to in-building communications platforms that enhance their ability to protect and serve the public,” said Foley. “I very much look forward to connecting with Safer Buildings Coalitions’ current and prospective membership and stakeholders to step up our efforts together in this important mission.”

Connect with John on LinkedIn

About the Safer Buildings Coalition The primary mission of the Safer Buildings Coalition is to ensure that First Responders (Fire, Law Enforcement and EMS) can use state-of-the-art voice and data communications to communicate with one another inside buildings as well as to and from their Command Centers outside buildings during an event. From their inception before the FCC in February 2012, the Safer Buildings Coalition has been at the forefront of advancing policies and ideas that lead to more buildings being served with commercial and public safety wireless coverage.

Learn more about joining the SBC by clicking here.  Also be sure follow us on our Facebook page, Twitter (@SaferBuildings), and connect with Safer Buildings on LinkedIn.

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Member Feature | RF Connect Delivers Major Dallas Highway Wireless Radio System Coverage for First Responders

 rfconnectlogoThis week’s member feature highlights Safer Buildings Coalition Member, RF Connect. As a recognized leader in the design, deployment, and support of high performance wireless and mobile solutions at high-capacity public and private venues around the nation, RF Connect is a significant contributor to the mission and goals of the SBC.

The Challenge:

RF Connect’s latest project includes over 7 miles of highway in Dallas County, Texas. This piece of highway is included in the LBJ Express project were it has been identified as below grade in a cantilevered tunnel effect, making public safety radio transmissions impossible. Because of the lack of radio signal in those areas, first responders were hindered from making or receiving calls. Law enforcement, fire, ambulance and other public safety radios for first responders were silenced, endangering the lives and safety of the public and the first responders.

The Solution:

RF Connect constructed a first responder public safety wireless radio coverage system for the 7 miles of cantilevered below grade roadway. RF Connect designed the system on the VHF, UHF, 700, and 800 MHz public safety radio spectrum bands, giving first responders open communication channels.  Due to the complete lack of public safety signals below grade, and the critical nature of those communications for the public and first responders, RF Connect designed the system with full redundancy so no single failure would cause an outage. A full 24 hours of battery back-up was included with the capability to add mobile generators for power outages beyond 24 hours. RF Connect integrated the system with multiple vendors’ equipment and provided a comprehensive alarm monitoring and maintenance program to guarantee the highest quality communications for public safety on all bands.

Despite the delays in construction from Dallas’ record rainfall in the Spring of 2015, the project met its opening date goal and was, in fact, completed ahead of schedule, thanks to the overall collaboration of all parties involved. “Our number one concern is the safety of the public on the roadway and the reliability of the highway system. Due to the lack of signal for first responder radios on the below grade sections of the roadway, we partnered with RF Connect to design, deliver and test a solution for all of the public safety entities that keep the traveling public safe,” explained LBJ Express COO, Jason Sipes.


About the LBJ Express Project:

When the LBJ Freeway opened in 1969, it was designed to hold about 180,000 vehicles per day. In 2008, the Freeway was counting 270,000 vehicles per day with demand expected to exceed 500,000 vehicles per day by 2020.

To accommodate the increased traffic, the 13-mile LBJ Express project called for improvements along Interstate 635 and Interstate 35E, including rebuilt main highway lanes, a continuous frontage road system and 13 miles of new express managed toll lanes. Crucial to the highway improvement project is RF Connect’s construction of the public safety wireless radio coverage system for first responders in below grade areas. Please visit for more information.

About RF Connect:

RF Connect is a recognized leader in the design, deployment, and support of high performance wireless and mobile solutions at high-capacity public and private venues around the nation. As a National Carrier Approved Turnkey Service Provider, the RF Connect technical team serves clients with industry-proven processes, tools, training, and technology that ensure reliable and robust connectivity for voice, data and multimedia needs. The nation’s largest hospitals, entertainment complexes, retail facilities, commercial real estate and high-rise facilities, municipal/educational institutions and other facilities team with RF Connect to optimize their mobile applications on a solid and well-planned wireless utility network (WUNSM) that is secure, robust, reliable, and ready to meet today’s demands. With more than a decade of specific experience in state-of-the-art connectivity in high-capacity settings, RF Connect provides its clients reliable, cost-effective systems and applications that provide un-tethered access to mission-critical information anytime and anywhere.


Learn more about joining the SBC by clicking here.  Also be sure follow us on our Facebook page, Twitter (@SaferBuildings), and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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Member Feature | SOLiD Ensures In-Building Wireless Communications Coverage at Republican & Democratic National Conventions


As an organization that advocates for in-building wireless  communications coverage – especially coverage for public safety – it is important that our members align with that mission. With that being said, we are proud to feature one of our member companies, SOLiD – a leader in wireless infrastructure – and the work they did in efforts to keep attendees connected and covered during both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this past month.

in-building wireless communications

Quicken Loans Arena

By updating the wireless networks at both Cleveland’s Quicken Loan Arena and the Pennsylvania Convention Center with SOLiD’s state-of-the-art distributed antenna systems (DAS), thousands of convention delegates, reporters, and attendees were able to seamlessly text, call, upload photos and video, check social media, and react to news in real time. The ability to communicate during these types of events is not only important from a media coverage standpoint, but also from a public safety standpoint as well. In an in-building emergency situation, it is imperative that first responders are able to communicate with those inside. The use of SOLiD’s DAS during these events ensures that those in-building wireless communications are possible.

As numbers for both conventions were expected to reach over 80,000 in attendance, the in-building wireless communications networks at both venues were able to ensure that critical phone calls, text messages, and media files were delivered – even during the height of convention activity. In the words of SOLiD Americas president Ken Sandfeld, “This year’s political conventions are the most connected and reliable in history. Unprecedented volumes of wireless data will be transmitted at both the Republican and Democratic National Convention venues, and the wireless network is ready, thanks to SOLiD’s ALLIANCE product line, which provides robust edge densification to the carrier networks.”

in-building wireless communications

Pennsylvania Convention Center

Distributed antenna systems (DAS) extend in-building wireless communications coverage so that people can stay connected everywhere – on the subway, in a stadium, at the mall, in their office, etc. SOLiD’s DAS solutions have been engineered to support multiple carriers and public safety bands, ensuring that people can stay safe and connected. Installation of a SOLiD DAS includes placing dozens of remote radio units throughout the venue. Each of these units acts like a mini cell tower to broadcast a carrier’s signal  into the building. This eliminates the dead zones that may result from building materials, and enables the capacity to communicate through congested areas.

From a public safety standpoint, it is critical that large venues possess the ability to provide coverage to those inside – especially during an emergency situation. Without it, lives may be lost. As a coalition, we are proud to have SOLiD on board as a member and fellow advocate for in-building public safety communications.

Learn more about joining the SBC by clicking here.  Also be sure follow us on our Facebook page, Twitter (@SaferBuildings), and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Quicken Loans Arena photo: Erik Drost, Wiki Commons; PACC photo: BMK, Wiki Commons



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