BDA – Frequently Asked Questions
A Bi-Directional Amplification system (BDA) is a “reliable in-building public safety radio coverage infrastructure system used to safeguard emergency communications”. In short, a BDA is a system that helps to enhance in-building radio frequency signal coverage for public safety use.
This system is primarily used to address the performance of emergency responders’ portable radios and maintain wireless communications with the first responders inside buildings and emergency personal outside the building during medical emergencies, fires, etc. Building construction, size, and construction features (such as Low-E windows) can absorb or block radio communications. With adequate levels of signal strength, efficient communications can save the lives of first responders and building occupants alike. You can read more in the detailed Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) Brochure.
Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES) were first introduced in the 2009 International Building Code. Currently, AHJ’s are the determining factor on whether a system is needed for a particular building and/or if a current system is adequate. A determination will not be made until an RF survey, performed by a specialized FCC GROL license holder, is completed. Results are then submitted to the AHJ for final determination of what will be required (Full System, Partial System, and Waiver).
NFPA 1221 (2016 Edition), NFPA 72 (2013, 2010 Editions) all specify the requirements for these systems. International Fire Code (IFC – Section 510). IBC Section 916 (2015 Edition), IBC Section 915 (2012 Edition).
Existing buildings are not required to comply with minimum radio strength for fire department communications and two way radio system enhancement communications as required by the Florida Fire Prevention Code until January 1st, 2025.
However, by January 1st, 2024, an existing building that is not in compliance with the requirements for minimum radio strength for fire department communications must apply for an appropriate permit for the required installation with the local government agency having jurisdiction and must demonstrate that the building will become compliant by January 1st, 2025.
Reliable radio coverage is essential for first responders during emergencies, yet 56% of fire departments have experienced communications failure during an emergency incident within the last two years. If a building has areas where emergency radio signals are not sufficient for reliable communications, a distributed antenna system (DAS) will amplify and distribute the signals to the needed areas. If a system is installed but coverage isn’t equal, the solution could be as simple as installing a distributed antenna system (DAS) to help distribute the RF signal throughout a building, stadium, hospital or other defined areas.
A notable time when a system failed is during the 9/11 attacks. Clear warnings from emergency command centers were received by first responders around the buildings instructing crews to pull fire fighters out due to obvious structural damage. These warnings were sent 21 minutes before the 2nd tower fell. Even though the ground crews communicated that information through the radio system, the lack of signal strength inside the buildings contributed to hundreds of lives being lost that day.
You can read more in the detailed Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) Brochure from our friends at Honeywell.
Piper Fire Protection is ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about BDAs. Please fill out the form, email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 800-327-7604.
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