If your building is one fire, you want fast response times from first responders. Timing is everything. And yet, communication issues among first responders is a major issue.

According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs Survey December 2017, 98.5 percent of first responders reported building dead spots. Of those surveyed, 56 percent experienced in-building communications failure in emergencies and 31 percent experienced communication failure.

Bi-directional amplifier, or BDA, Systems can do away with many of these communication issues. These systems are also a requirement depending on your jurisdiction.

What is a public safety BDA System?

Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA) and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) help to ensure that first responders entering your building can communicate with one another during an emergency. BDA systems are an extension of a public safety radio systems and thus must be carefully designed by an experienced and knowledgeable BDA vendor.

There are two types of BDAs, one for two-way radios and one for cell phones. Public safety BDA systems are two-way radio systems used to assist first responders in the event of an emergency.

In short, the goal of a BDA/DAS is to eliminate communication “dead spots” or “dead zones” in a building by extending coverage range so that first responders can communicate as needed.

How do BDA Systems aid in communication?

BDA systems ensure reliable two-way communication, receiving and amplifying transmissions from radios inside to the repeater antenna outside. They boost the signal by distributing Radio Frequency (RF) throughout a building.

These systems are designed to overcome interference and common impairments to signal strength like concrete, metal, low-E glass windows, underground structures, building materials, etc. Public safety BDA systems boost reception for first responders’ radio networks operating on 700MHz, 800MHz, and 900 MHz bands.

Are BDA Systems required?

Requirements for BDA systems are enforced by local jurisdictions. It’s important to check with your county Fire Marshal to be sure of requirements per your area. Organizations like the NFPA and IFC set the standards for in-building signal coverage laws.

The general requirements for most jurisdictions are that BDA systems are required for buildings that have one floor below grade or two floors above. For most jurisdictions, BDA Systems are required in all new construction per these requirements. Many jurisdictions even necessitate retrofits of older buildings falling under these requirements.

Building owners are responsible for the cost of installing BDA systems, not the local fire department. Building owners typically choose fire protection companies to install BDA systems as part of the fire alarm bid as BDA systems fall under the category of fire alarm system.

BDA systems must be designed and installed by certified professionals. All systems must be FCC certified and must clearly display an FCC ID number and the required compliance labels. It’s the job of the AHJ to ensure that BDA systems have proper FCC certification.

How Fire Systems, Inc. can assist you with new BDA System requirements

Fire Systems, Inc. can sell and install BDA systems. We have extensive knowledge of BDA systems and requirements based on your area and work closely with the AHJ and top BDA designers. The installation process can be daunting for building owners, but it doesn’t have to be.

Choosing a fire protection company like Fire Systems, Inc. will ensure a smooth, seamless process.

Questions about BDA systems? Call us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information.