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How Building Costs Can Be Reduced By Installing Emergency Systems Together

Building owners are always looking for ways to improve their CAPEX. Read the latest article from Forbes Technology Council "Building Costs Can Be Reduced By Installing Emergency Systems Together"


How Building Costs Can Be Reduced By Installing Emergency Systems Together

Building owners and facility managers must implement two critical infrastructures in order to receive their certificate of occupancy: Fire and Life Safety Systems (i.e., fire alarms and smoke detectors) and Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES), which ensure first responders have seamless wireless connectivity during an emergency response.

Both are required and can be expensive and complex to deploy. This is due to the extensive wiring, network architecture planning, and system integrator costs needed to ensure the systems are installed properly for the unique environment and jurisdiction requirements to ensure systems work without fail each and every day. Traditionally, the systems have always been considered disparate, but there has been growing momentum from companies to offer ERCES and fire and life safety systems together to help building owners and managers save on deployment costs.


ERCES Systems

ERCES systems were developed to ensure radio signals can seamlessly be received in any part of a building, including areas that can be difficult for radio frequency (RF) waves to penetrate like stairwells, elevators, basements, and thick-walled areas. These systems ensure first responders and emergency services personnel — including police, firefighters, and EMS — are able to properly coordinate their responses during emergency situations. 

As I’ve previously discussed, AHJs — which can be a fire marshall, police chief, or an FCC license holder — enforce codes in their jurisdictions based on International Fire Code (IFC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), or local addendums. Since 9/11, jurisdictions are increasingly requiring a full ERCES system for first responders in both new and existing buildings. Additionally, any new construction 75 feet or taller needs to have first responder coverage in 99% of critical areas and 95% everywhere else. If the building does not satisfy this code mandate, an ERCES must be deployed to meet the communication requirements. An ERCES is built using two types of wireless technologies: distributed antenna systems (DAS), for larger buildings like airports, and bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs), for small buildings. Similar to fire and life safety systems, ERCES needs to follow code-compliant cabling and also must be installed and commissioned by FCC-certified technicians. 



Building owners and facility managers should look at ERCES systems as an integral part of the deployment of all public safety systems. ERCES ensures that natural and manmade obstacles, such as building materials and foliage, do not disrupt the necessary RF communication signals allowing emergency personnel to communicate via emergency responder networks such as land mobile radios (LMR). 

Deploying an ERCES system means investing in DAS or repeaters (depending on facility size) throughout the entirety of the building, just as is done with fire safety systems. Dealing with extensive cabling and network components that require the expertise of installers can be costly. Fortunately, fire and life safety systems are now being integrated directly with ERCES communication systems to reduce cabling needs. When both necessary emergency systems are deployed together, the building ownership is able to drive down CAPEX costs while minimizing the complexities that can come with scheduling two different installations.