The Evolution of the ARC System
The need for reliable in-building radio coverage for first responders became imperative in the aftermath of September 11th. In the 9/11 Commission report, communication failures were a critical element that undermined the response to the attacks. The FDNY developed stringent requirements for newly constructed buildings, to support their high-rise firefighting model. Well over 100 firefighters may respond to an incident and ensuring their ability to communicate is of utmost importance. Every building has a "Fire Command Center" where the FDNY establishes onsite command and control. The newly mandated operations plan requires the installation of a wireless two-way building communications system to receive and retransmit firefighter communications throughout the building.
What Is an ARC System?
There are three major components of an ARC System (Auxiliary Radio Communications) – the Dispatch Radio Console (DRC) at the Fire Command Center, a Radio Amplification Unit (RAU) that receives and retransmits the radio signals, and a Cable and Antenna Plant (CAP), which consists of antennas strategically placed throughout the building to ensure radio coverage. In addition to functional requirements, FDNY has established precise standards for ARC System hardware and for approval of companies and technicians who would be authorized to test and maintain these systems.
Commitment to the Highest Standards
RF Solutions LLC launched in 2016 with a commitment to excellence in implementing in-building wireless communications systems including those for first responders. FDNY's unique specifications meant no "off the shelf" equipment existed in the marketplace. Although a couple of companies were producing devices which did meet the published FDNY requirements, their offerings fell far short of our expectations for product design, stability, and overall quality. An entirely new system would have to be custom-designed and built for this application, and the resulting system would require proprietary software for proper operation as well as self-monitoring capabilities. We knew the only viable option was to design and produce our own ARCS equipment.
Designed and built in the USA
After making a list of what is considered to be essential system qualities beyond the basic FDNY requirements, we set out to ensure that these critical, life-safety systems would be of the highest quality and reliability. So it was not up for debate; we’d only build our products in the US by a manufacturing firm meeting ISO 9001 standard. We decided to comply voluntarily with President Obama's Executive Order 13636 ("Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity") and chose to engage a certified, US-based developer. The software development team understood that it was crucial to have a system that is easy to operate while maintaining exceptional reliability. Again, all software systems are designed and supported by us here in the US.
Going Above and Beyond
Once we had a production-ready system, we submitted our proprietary equipment (the Radio Command Series - RAU and DRC) to a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory). Here it was certified for full compliance with UL Standard 60950-1 ("Information Technology Equipment Safety") as well as with FCC Part 15 ("Electromagnetic Compatibility"). We are the first (and so far the only) company whose ARC System components have been tested to these specifications. Our company is always thinking ahead, and with our approach and local teams, we will be quick to meet future requirements. Modifications to the NYC code are coming soon, and we are already implementing adaptations to our equipment, ensuring our equipment leads the way with best in class solutions.
Setting the Bar for Life Safety
As of today, RF Solutions has installed (or are in the process of installing) our Radio Command Series equipment in over 100 buildings in NYC. We are happy to report that our systems are getting FDNY approvals, often passing on the first inspection. The decision to manufacture our products provides us with complete control, and it is the foundation of our firm's mission: to develop and install the highest quality wireless communications system so that first responders can do their job and save lives.