**Please note this is a working draft between ABEL Building Systems, and The Cincinnati Fire Department as of 1/21/19.
Cincinnati Fire Department Requirements for Emergency Responders Radio Coverage
All buildings shall have approved radio coverage for emergency responders within the building based upon the existing coverage levels of the public safety communication systems of the jurisdiction at the exterior of the building. This notice may require improvement of the existing public safety communication systems. The intent of this guideline is to provide the Cincinnati Fire Department’s interpretation of the minimum standards necessary to meet the requirements for emergency responder radio coverage in accordance with the Ohio Fire Code.
What is Emergency Responder Radio Coverage (ERRC)?
ERRC is specifically required for the protection of responders during an emergency. The local building official and/or design professional cannot waive this requirement for any reason. The local fire official can waive the ERRC if it is not needed.
The threshold requirements, design, testing and monitoring of the ERRC must be in accordance with the 2016 NFPA 72.
The ERRC must be monitored by the fire alarm system to ensure that the communication enhancement system is functioning properly.
Required signal strength
Section 510 of the 2017 Ohio Fire Code states that all new buildings shall have approved radio coverage for emergency responders within the building base upon the existing coverage levels of the public safety communication systems of the jurisdiction at the exterior of the building. To be considered acceptable, the emergency responder radio coverage must meet the minimum signal strength measurement of -95 dBm in 95% of all areas of each floor of the building. Critical Area Coverage requires 99% coverage according to (NFPA 1221 188.8.131.52) coverage in Critical areas. Critical areas are defined as: Emergency Command Centers, Fire Pump Room(s), Exit Stairs and Passageways, Elevator Lobbies, Sprinkler Valve Locations and other locations required by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
This requirement applies to all new buildings within the City of Cincinnati except: 1 and 2 Family Dwellings. This code shall not require improvement of the existing public safety communication systems. Emergency responder radio coverage in existing buildings, section 510.2 states that existing buildings shall be provided with approved radio coverage for emergency responders as required in rule 1301:7-7-11 of the Administrative Code. Where approved the fire code official, an existing wired communication system in accordance with OFC Ohio Fire Code, Rule 1301:7-7-05 Fire Service Features, Paragraph J, Section 510 Emergency Responder Radio Coverage shall be permitted to be maintained in an existing building in lieu of an approved radio coverage system.
OFC 104.1 General. The fire code official is hereby authorized to enforce the provisions of this code and to the extent the state fire marshal has not rendered an interpretation or issued a “Technical Bulletin” regarding a particular topic, the fire code official shall have the authority to render interpretations of this code, and to adopt policies, procedures, rules and regulations in order to clarify the application of its provisions. Such interpretations, policies, procedures, rules and regulations shall be in compliance with the intent and purpose of this code and shall not have the effect of waiving requirements specifically provided for in this code.
OFC 102.8 Harmonizing provisions. Where there is a conflict between a general requirement and a specific requirement of this code or its referenced standards, the specific requirement shall be applicable. A conflict occurs when both the general and specific requirements cannot be satisfied at the same time for the regulated matter. Where, in a specific case, different paragraphs of this code or its referenced standards specify different materials, methods of construction or other requirements, the most restrictive provision that provides the highest degree of safety shall govern. If there is a conflict between a requirement of this code and a referenced standard, the provisions of this code shall govern unless otherwise provided in section 3781.11 of the Revised Code.
Steps for New Building Permit Submittals and Determining Signal Strength
Step 1 – When the building plans for new buildings are submitted to the City of Cincinnati Building and Inspections, a Fire Department Emergency Responder Radio System Acknowledgement Form must be submitted with the plans.
Step 2 – Preconstruction testing can be conducted to determine the need for an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRC) or the owner can predesign the building to accommodate the ERRC equipment. If it determined a (ERRC) is not required during preconstruction once the building is “closed in” additional radio signal strength (Spectrum Analysis) and clarity study is run on a 20 grid block per floor and results are submitted to Cincinnati Fire Prevention Bureau (CFD). If more than one block on a given floor is over the -95db threshold, or a critical area has poor coverage a system will likely be required for affected areas by CFD. If the system passes the initial radio signal strength (Spectrum Analysis) and clarity study; then a final inspection can be scheduled with the CFD after the strength (Spectrum Analysis) and clarity study has been reviewed by CFD.
Step 3 – An installation permit application with design and cut sheets are submitted to CFD for review and approval or a correction letter would be sent to owner. A Fire Alarm permits may also be required by the Building and Inspections.
Step 4 – Once an installation permit is received; the installation, initial dummy load testing, and live testing can be completed. A second radio signal strength (Spectrum Analysis) and clarity study with the system in place will be submitted to CFD for review.
Step 5 – The Installer can schedule the Final Inspection by CFD.
Step 6 – Owner contractor to provide as-built and final testing documentation.
Step 7 – Sign off Final Permit CFD
Step 8 – Annual (ERRC) Operating Permit is obtained based on annual 3rd party testing.
Ohio Fire Code and NFPA Code Requirements
The Following are important NFPA code requirements for ERRC
- Each New Commercial Building is required to be evaluated for compliance with this requirement,
if adequate radio coverage is not maintained, ERRC must be provided.
- Equipment Enclosures: All equipment supporting the public safety network must be housed in waterproof NEMA-4 or 4X-type enclosures.
- Battery Backup: Equipment that supports the public safety radio system must be able to function for 24 hours on a backup battery (2 hours with a system on a generator).
- Fire Ratings: Public safety electronic equipment must be installed in a two-hour fire rated room.
Buildings which will achieve radio coverage without amplification are exempt.
Where it is determined by a radio signal strength and clarity evaluation that the radio coverage system is not needed the Cincinnati Fire Department will issue a Letter of Compliance to the owner. The Letter of Compliance issued to buildings which will achieve radio coverage without amplification is exempt for 5 years. An approved field evaluation (at the owner’s expense) shall be conducted every 5 years to determine the building’s signal strength meets the requirements of the Ohio Fire Code.
In facilities where emergency responder radio coverage is required and such systems, components or equipment required could have a negative impact on the normal operations of that facility, the fire code official shall have the authority to accept an automatically activated emergency responder radio coverage system.
A building permit and a Fire Department installation permit are required for installation of or modification to the public safety radio amplification system and related equipment. The following document shall be required to obtain a permit from the Cincinnati Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention (FPB) located at 805 Central Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
- Three (3) set of plans, area gridded, 20 or 40 sections
- Cut sheets on equipment to be installed
- UL listed for intended use of the equipment installed
- Location of boosters, antennas and amplifier components.
- Statement of intend to meet all applicable codes.
Initial permit fees are based on plan review and inspection time (2 hours minimum), record retention and inspection fees will be collected when plans are submitted.
The permit applicant shall be the installing contractor with knowledge of installing emergency responder radio coverage systems. (Documentation may be required).
Installation, alteration, or demolition of a system shall not commence prior to the approval of plans and the issuance of a permit.
Equipment shall be registered with the FCC upon acceptance from the Cincinnati Fire Department. .
General Requirements for All Public Safety Amplification System Projects.
Plans and attachments shall be clearly labeled and legible.
Plans and all revisions to the plans shall be dated. If utilizing an existing drawing or portion of a drawing, the area of work shall be highlighted and clouded with an appropriate symbol (delta). Provide a revision list with a symbol, date, description, and initials.
When making alterations, additions, or deletions to an existing system, all existing devices and equipment shall be shown and properly identified on the floor plan and system riser (single-line) diagram.
Plans shall include a title sheet, an equipment list, a written standard operating procedure, a floor plan, a system riser diagram, and secondary power calculations.
Attachments shall include the manufacturer’s specification sheets for all equipment and devices such as; cables, amplifiers, ups, batteries and antenna; indicating the FCC certification.
Note: Failure to provide any of the information required in above section will result in the plans being disapproved.
The front sheet shall contain the following information:
- Project name and address of the project.
- The designer’s full name (no initials, pseudonyms, acronyms, or aliases) FCC License number and signature. The designer of record shall be responsible for the entire system being worked on.
- Business name, address, and City of Cincinnati Contractor’s License number and FCC issued License of the installing contractor. If the designer of the system is not the installing contractor, the following shall be clearly indicated/printed on the plans:
DESIGNED BY – followed by the designer’s business name, address, designer of record’s full name and signature.
INSTALLING CONTRACTOR – followed by the installing contractor’s business name, address and a Contractor’s License number.
- Type of supervising station service as per NFPA 72.
- Occupancy group(s) of building or area as defined by the Ohio Building Code.
- Number of basements, number of stories above basement, building height, total building area, and building construction type.
- Scope of work. If the scope of work is the demolition of an existing amplification system or wired system justification for removal shall be provided.
- Description of transmission zone assignments.
- A note stating that the design and installation complies with NFPA 72 (2013 edition), Ohio Building Code (2013 edition), and the Cincinnati Fire Department ordinances, policies, and standards.
- A clear site map and/or vicinity map.
- All other pertinent notes.
- A key plan of the building and/or complex indicating the street location and the area of work within the building shall be provided.
- State the required performance objective of the Amplification System, OFC and NFPA 72 24.5.2. Should the codes conflict, the most stringent shall prevail.
2.3 Equipment List
2.3.1 Provide the model number, manufacturer’s name, description, quantity, and symbols to be used (legend) for each device, equipment, and conductors proposed to be installed (Note: The Fire Department reserves the right to disallow any listed product due to past performance).
2.3.2 The symbols used on the plans shall match the legend. Strike out any “typical” symbols that do not pertain.
2.4 Floor Plan – the following shall be clearly indicated:
2.4.1 Scale used and a graphical representation of the scale. The minimum scale for ERRC plans is
1/8” = 1’-0”. Metric scale shall not be accepted.
2.4.2 Room and Room Names.
2.4.3 The locations of partitions, non-rated walls, and rated walls.
2.4.4 The location of all Emergency Responder equipment.
2.4.5 Power and Panel locations.
2.4.6 Raceway routing.
2.4.7 Conduit and conductor size.
2.4.8 Roof plan showing location(s) of antennae.
2.4.9 Location(s) of In Building Antennae.
2.4.10 Band width.
2.5 Riser Diagram – provide the following:
2.5.1 Single-line wiring diagram (riser diagram) that shows the interconnection of equipment of the whole system.
2.5.2 Type and size of wire or conductor to be used.
2.5.3 Schematic drawing of electrical system and backup power.
2.6 Detail Diagram – Show Supervisory points from repeater.
2.7.1 Secondary power calculation – See 3.20 herein.
2.8 Signal propagation Map – Provide a color map indicating the signal strengths as designed and then as installed by As-Built.
2.9.1 Manufacturer’s specification sheets for all devices, equipment, and materials to be used shall be submitted, including the cables, amplifiers, ups, batteries, antenna and transponder to the supervising station. Highlight on the cut sheet which device or equipment is being used, the listing information, and the application per listing.
3.0 DESIGN AND INSTALLATION
3.1 ERRC systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with NFPA 72 (2013 edition), the Ohio Electrical Code (2017 edition), the Ohio Fire Code (2017 edition), the Ohio Building Code (2017 edition), and the Cincinnati Fire Department ordinances, policies, and standards.
3.2 Design the ERRC to provide signal amplification on every floor of the building. During installation, install infrastructure (equipment space, electrical power and cable pathways) throughout the building. However, install amplification only on floors that fail to pass the Contractor’s pre-installation and acceptance tests.
3.3 Components used in the installation of the ERRC system, such as repeaters, transmitters, receivers, signal boosters, cabling, and fiber-distributed antenna systems, shall be tested for compatibility with the public safety radio system.
3.4 ERRC shall permit the simultaneous use and interoperability of analog and digital modulation radios.
3.5 ERRC shall be neutral host and nonproprietary.
3.6. ERRC shall not infringe on or be overrun by adjacent building communication systems or cellular telephone service provider systems.
3.7. Permanent external filters and attachments shall not be permitted.
3.8. Describe if a Class A (A is channelized) 24 channels; or Class B (requires special registration with FCC and notice to the City of Cincinnati radio shop) is being proposed.
3.9. Maximum power output: The maximum power allowed by FCC to be generated is 4W Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) when sending towards the Donor Site and ¼W from an Indoor Antenna. You can obtain the EIRP by simply adding the transmit output power, in dBm, to the antenna gain in dBi (if there is loss in the cable feeding the antenna you may subtract that loss). The minimum power required to carry out the desired communication shall not be exceeded. The responsibility for staying within these power limits falls on the professional installer.
3.10. Documentation required is presented in 2013 NFPA 72 Chapter 7.
3.11. Prior to installation, the developer shall meet with the Fire Department to ensure that the required radio study is prepared to assess existing and proposed signal strength and clarity. The radio study shall provide specific recommendations to the developer to achieve compliance. The radio study shall be submitted along with the applicant’s formal application for permit. This document shall contain, but not be limited to, the various frequencies required, the location of radio sites, the effective radiated power of radio sites and other supporting technical information.
3.12. Retroactivity: Unlike most installation standards, ERRC is intended to be enforced retroactively on existing buildings (see CFC 510.2 and 1103.2).
3.13. Emergency Communications Systems: 2013NFPA 72 Chapter 24 – “Emergency Communication Systems” regulates the installation and use of ERRC. The CFC and CBC primarily in section 907 determines when these systems are required in a building. NFPA 72 tells you how the system should be installed when required by the fire and building codes.
3.14. Emergency responders include but are not limited to the following:
City of Cincinnati Fire and Police Departments
Hamilton County Sheriff and Ohio State Police Departments
3.15. Frequencies: For current published frequencies refer to http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?ctid=2070. Frequencies will be determined by the geographic location of the facility requiring in-building coverage.
3.16 ERRC headend equipment including all common equipment shall be located in a room on the main floor or one floor below grade. Locate the headend equipment in the Fire Command Room whenever possible or the Telecommunication Room if a Fire Command Room is not required. A sign or map identifying location of room and master power switch shall be provided as needed to assure the location is readily identifiable to emergency responders.
3.17 Locate the EERC node equipment in Telecommunications Rooms (TRs).
3.18 Provide the ERRC headend room and the TRs containing ERRC equipment with continuous air conditioning to alleviate heat build-up within the rooms. Connect the air conditioning system to normal building power circuits. The ERRC equipment can operate at an elevated temperature during a power outage.
3.19 Rooms housing ERRC equipment to be separated from the remainder of the building by 2 hour rated fire barriers.
3.20 Provide pathway (circuit) survivability in accordance with NFPA 72.
3.21Location of the main RF and donor site (site closest to the jobsite) and their power – The Lat/Long coordinates will be provided to the contractor developing the DAS system and will vary by location. At no time will the contractor be allowed access to City radio sites.
3.22 Additional frequencies. Provide ERRC expandability to permit future additions and changes to the emergency responder radio frequencies
3.23 ERRC shall comply with the requirements of and obtain licensee consent from the FCC as required.
- Do not combine the ERRC with other radio systems such as:
- Cellular telephone signal enhancement.
- Wi-Fi systems.
- Pager systems.
- Medical telemetry systems
3.25. All signal booster components shall be contained in National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) 4-type waterproof cabinet(s) or other approved enclosure(s).
3.20 Secondary power supply – Emergency responder radio coverage systems shall be provided with an approved secondary source of power per NFPA 184.108.40.206.2
3.21 When primary power is lost, the power supply to the emergency responder radio coverage system shall automatically transfer to the secondary power supply. In accordance with Cincinnati Fire Department requirements for alarm systems, or 24 hours of Standby if the Fire Alarm System has a UL certificate. The design capacity shall be based on standby plus 100% load (means of two-way conversation) for 24 hours.
3.26. Connect the UPS (2-hour capacity on full operational load) to a generator-backed emergency power circuit if available.
3.27. As a Minimum: UPS shall be enclosed in a NEMA Type 4 waterproof enclosure.
Exception: Listed systems that are contained in integrated battery cabinets.
UPS batteries shall be of the sealed maintenance-free type. Provide battery ventilation in accordance with code.
3.21. Emergency Power Off (EPO) – A disconnect relay connection that will disengage the Power shall be provided and be the only method of turning off a UPS system. DC Systems shall have a Battery Disconnect Switch. To turn the entire ERRC off, two actions must be completed. 1) Turn off the secondary power supply using the EPO switch and 2) Turn off the circuit breaker to cut the normal AC. The switch(es) shall be readily identifiable.
3.22. Supervision – See 2013 NFPA section 220.127.116.11 for monitoring requirements of ERRC Systems. As a Minimum, Provide supervision of the ERRC antennas, signal boosters, power supplies and UPS.
3.22.1. Provide supervisory and trouble signals indicating impairment. Connect the supervisory and trouble alarm contacts to the building fire alarm system.
18.104.22.168. As a Minimum, the following conditions shall be monitored through the Fire Alarm Panel:
- Antenna Malfunction
- Signal Booster Failure
- Low Battery Capacity, sending a supervisory signal at 70% of battery capacity.
- Loss of normal AC power.
- Failure of battery charger.
3.22.2. Program the fire alarm system to relay ERRC supervisory and trouble signals to the appropriate supervising station. Instruct supervising station personnel to notify the Cincinnati Fire Department for impairments.
3.23. Dedicated Panel – See 2013 NFPA 72, section 22.214.171.124.2 for monitoring requirements of ERRC Systems.
3.24. Antennas – If outdoor antennas are required, obtain City of Cincinnati Planning Department approval of antenna locations. Provide access for maintenance and code-required fall protection.
The wiring shall be in as required by 2013 NFPA 72 section 24.3.6 and 27.7.
Identify all required outside plant fiber optic cables required to connect ERRC to remote antennas, other services and other buildings.
The conduit is not required to be dedicated to radio system cable. Radio system cable may be comingled in the conduit with fiber-optic and other cable that will not impede signal transmission and complies with the Ohio Electrical Code.
Cable shall be in metal conduit, be metal clad or in metal sheathing. 2” minimum for vertical.
3.26. Signage. Signage shall be provided in accordance with OFC 510 as directed by the inspector. A sign shall be located above or near the building Key Box stating “This building is equipped with an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System”.
4.01. Acceptance Testing: Upon completion of installation, it will be the building owner’s responsibility to have the radio system tested to insure that two-way communications on each floor of the building is a minimum of 95% coverage. The fire code official shall be notified by the responsible person of any scheduled acceptance testing of public safety amplification systems not less than forty-eight hours prior to the occurrence of such acceptance test. All acceptance testing shall be conducted in the presence of the fire code official.
4.02. Record of Completion: A record of completion verifying that the system has been installed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications shall be provided.
4.03. Test Procedure: Each floor of the building shall be divided into a grid of approximately twenty (20) equal areas. A maximum of two (2) nonadjacent areas will be allowed to fail the test. In the event that three (3) of the areas fail the test, in order to be more statistically accurate, the floor may be divided into forty (40) equal areas. In such event, a maximum of four (4) nonadjacent areas will be allowed to fail the test. After the forty (40) area test, if the system continues to fail, the building owner shall have the
system altered to meet the 95% coverage requirement. A spot located approximately in the center of a grid area will be selected for the test, then the radio will be keyed to verify two-way communications to and from the outside of the building through the communication center. Once the spot has been
selected, prospecting for a better spot within the grid area will not be permitted. . To be considered acceptable, the emergency responder radio coverage must meet the minimum signal strength measurement of -95 dBm in 95% of all areas of each floor of the building. Critical Area Coverage requires 99% coverage according to (NFPA 1221 126.96.36.199) coverage in Critical areas. Critical areas are defined as: Emergency Command Centers, Fire Pump Room(s), Exit Stairs and Passageways, Elevator Lobbies, Sprinkler Valve Locations and other locations required by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
4.04. Annual Tests: When a public safety amplification system is required, the building owner shall cause to have tested all active components of the system, including but not limited to amplifiers, power supplies and backup batteries, a minimum of once every twelve (12) months. Amplifiers shall be tested to ensure that the gain is the same as it was upon initial installation and acceptance. Backup batteries and power supplies shall be tested under load for a period of one (1) hour to verify that, they will properly operate during an actual power outage. If within the one (1) hour test period, in the opinion of the testing technician, the battery exhibits symptoms of failure, the test shall be extended for additional one (1) hour periods until the /testing technician confirms the integrity of the battery. All other active components shall be checked to determine that they are operating within the manufacturer’s specifications for the intended purpose. The annual test shall be performed in the presents of a Cincinnati Fire Department representative.
4.05. Field Testing: The fire code official, after providing reasonable notice to the owner or their representative, shall have the right to enter onto the property to conduct field testing to be
certain that the required level of radio coverage is present.
4.06. Records: Records of all system inspections, testing, and maintenance shall be maintained on the premises for a minimum of two (2) years unless otherwise provided for by law or regulation and made available to the fire code official upon request. Records shall be maintained as follows:
- Acceptance testing records (original documents) shall be retained for the life of the system.
2 .Subsequent records shall be retained for a period of one year after the next inspection test or maintenance.
A sign is required to indicate that an ERRS is installed in the building. The sign shall be no smaller than 10” high and 16” wide and be placed 6” above the Rapid Key Entry Box on the front of the building, if applicable. If there is no Rapid Key Entry Box then the sign shall be installed at a height of 7’ from the ground and within 5’ of the main entrance. An additional signs, same size and style shall be placed above the fire alarm panel and any remote annunciators.
The sign shall be white with the red radio icon and with the letters “ERRS” in red reflective letters.