What is a Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA)?
As technology continues to evolve and wireless communication improves, it impacts the industries of fire and life safety. This is especially the case where it concerns emergency first responders who depend on systems and equipment installed into buildings meant to protect not only the public, but them as well. One such example of evolving and improved technology are BDA (Bi-Directional Amplification) systems. These systems are installed in buildings to enhance and maintain the signal strength of wireless communications between radios used by first responders and emergency personnel during dangerous situations of fire and life safety. These BDA systems make a world of difference for our first responders as they are able to better utilize their equipment to their full potential while facing dire circumstances. They are battling against life threatening environments, to save not only our lives, but our livelihoods, as they put out fires and more. Given all of this, it’s imperative we get ahead of the game and install the correct systems on our properties; by preparing for the worst, we help our first responders so that they can do what they do best. Another challenge emergency personnel face is the fact that buildings of concrete or metal design (underground, parking garages, high-rise, etc.) have a negative effect on the signal strength of radios, cellphones, and other wireless devices. When it comes to BDA radios and wireless communication tools, these “signal blocking” materials can potentially lead to life or death situations for first responders attempting to communicate while navigating the structure. As a result, the introduction and installation of this new technology is not only beneficial, but crucial, and it will soon be the requirement per regulation and AHJ approval. You can find further details on systems, regulation and the approval process on our website, and we invite you to read more here.
Florida Legislation on BDA
Recent legislation has been passed in Florida, USA on BDA (Bi-Directional Amplification) and ERCES (Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement Systems) systems that provides us a timeline for existing buildings. Per Florida Statute 633.202, “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.” Meaning, while it is not required to install these communication enhancement systems in your existing buildings until 2025, it will begin to affect you in early 2024. This gives you a little time to consider what you’d like to do next and request a survey for your building or new project; you can request a survey on our website. Florida Statute 633.202 goes further stating, “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.”
Take the First Steps to Protect our First Responders
Given these timelines per Florida Statute 633.202, we at Piper Fire Protection have taken the initiative to begin performing ERCES surveys and are already installing BDA systems for our customers. Budgeting for BDA system installations is something we suggest you start doing today. That way you are financially prepared when these systems are required by law. Instead of waiting until 2024 and dealing with the hassle of permit requests or deadlines, we strongly encourage you to research the benefits of getting these life saving systems installed in your existing buildings (or new construction). Should you have questions or concerns about BDA or ERCES, you can call us at 1-800-327-7604 or email us at email@example.com. We also accept BDA requests on our website and are happy to answer your questions and perform a survey for these services. We look forward to hearing from, educating and servicing you in any way we can, because at the end of the day: “Your Life Safety, Our Life Mission”.
Written By: Marlana Sadorf
Date Posted: January 3, 2022