Notifier Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA Systems)

Posted by ORR Protection on Jan 14, 2021 10:00:00 AM

In this presentation, David Tamulevich of Notifier discusses BDA Systems, in-building radio communications, codes & standards for first responders.

Video Transcript:

My name is Dave Tamulevich. I'm a sales application specialist for Notifier, and really what we're today we're going to talk about is a bi-directional amplifier or in-building radio communication systems. We're going to talk about codes and standards on the way that the industry is driving the technology today. And one of the things that we start looking about bi-directional amplifiers is just the need that are out there for first responders. So when we look at specifications, there's many different Ackerman. These are just three of the different acronyms that traditionally we see, but I've seen up to 20 different ways to name it. But some people would say public safety networks, some say, bi-directional amplifiers. Some say in-building radio communications. All these technologies are doing this, doing the same thing. What they're doing is when first responders come inside the building, you're boosting the signals of their radios when they come inside. The building guaranteeing that the radios work, communicate when they walk into a building and just run a quick video

During an emergency reliable communication is critical. Staying informed with clear radio transmissions between first responders inside a building and emergency personnel outside the building can help prevent injuries and protect more lives. Radio signal, dead spots in a building are a problem. Poor public safety radio coverage can keep first responders in the dark. During times when two-way communication is critical, Notifier provides a reliable two-way communication solution that enhances radio signal strength inside buildings, tunnels, and other structures for first responders. Building's radio signal strength is relative to the location of the public safety radio antenna and the buildings, environment, construction and size, depending on the location and orientation of the building signal. Strength may vary. In-Building radio signal. Strength is weakened by features such as concrete metal, Lowy glass, and other underground structures.

Over 98% of first responders report building dead spots, which impact their communications and safety. In the past two years, 56% of first responders experienced in building communications failure during emergencies 31% say they experienced communications failure. In the last six months, our emergency radio communication enhancement system can provide 100% in-building coverage. It achieves this by boosting signals from the public safety radio repeater with a bi-directional amplifier, also known as BDA in the life safety industry. And it distributed throughout the building using the distributed antenna system. The BDA receives and amplifies transmissions from radios inside to the repeater antenna outside safeguarding reliable two-way communications.

Current codes require over 95% emergency responder radio coverage in all new buildings. IFC requires acceptable signal coverage throughout 95% of the building in all areas on each floor in FPA requires 99% building coverage in critical areas. And 90% in general areas, UL 25, 24 product performance listing for BDA manufacturers ensure systems adhere to strict IFC and NFPA codes. Notifier is the first fire and life safety company to market a fully integrated UL, 25 24. And CSFM listed BDA solution Notifiers bi-directional amplifier, which is available from your local independently owned, authorized distributor meets all frequency requirements in all jurisdictions requiring class B BDAs and exceeds NFPA and IFC specifications, helping to protect occupants and the emergency teams who risked their lives to protect them.

But really what we're looking here is making sure that we have reliable radio coverage and it's in this necessity. One of the analogies I get is in April, we had a sales meeting and we had a, quite a few angry salespeople because whoever had a Verizon cell phone in our building, we don't have any on repeaters inside. We have ATT. So they were upset that they weren't getting their emails or text messages. And you know what I say, this, this is an annoyance isn't life safety and their lives are not going to be at risk because they didn't get an email for an hour or so. But what we're looking at is guaranteeing that their radios for first responders, EMS fire place, where they come inside your building, their lives are at risk. You know, making sure that ensure that they can talk to each other.

So this is annoyance, this is my safety. So that's really what we need to literally look at from here. This perspective is, you know, cause we do get a lot of questions. Well, can you boost my cell phone signals? Ecstasy does not allow you to do that on the same. Bi-Directional amplifier some of the intenders inside the building. You can utilize, but that's not a necessity. That's not life safety. So we're looking at the public safety network of there to ensure that first responders radios communicate when they walk into a building. So some of the problems that we see within building radio SIG degregation is concrete metal. One of the things too is more buildings have been built with low E-Class little E-Class is to make the building lead or more energy efficient, keep it cooler in the summertime, warmer in there, or it has a reflective material that same reflective material that reflects UV rays also reflects RF.

A newer building actually can be more susceptible for poor radio communications and concrete buildings that were installed 20 years ago, typically low E-Class below ground structures. So parking garages, basements, anything there. Those are traditionally where we already know that you go in there and your radios are never going to work. So the code is saying that you need to boost that signal. So they have radio coverage in the basement of these buildings. Other obstructions could be the building across the street from you. It depends where the radio tower is, where you get the signal from. So another building to be put across the street. And now today I had perfectly good radio coverage. They built a building across the street from you. They block the signal. Now I don't have any radio cupboards. So those are things that could be as for signal degradation and gives you a part in building communication.

So some of the coverage problem is on the left-hand side. You can see at the rate of repeater while then it hits the building on the left-hand side of the building. I perfectly good radio coverage because it hasn't gone through too much. So you've gone through all the concrete. You've gone through all the desks in office and dry wall that you have now on the backside, on the right hand side of the building, then I have poor radio communications. So you can have good and bad radio communications within the same building. Another scenario is just a different, more of a layout and it's not a high-rise, it's just on the other side of the building. As you can see in a flat pattern that it's never going to reach the other side of the building. So our solution is that we're going to provide an engineered systems design.

So one of the gentlemen asked me today about a high rise, a how many antennas do I need? But traditionally what we're doing is we're doing a radio survey in the entire building. And a lot of times in high rise buildings, maybe the top five floors, I don't need any intenders on the top floor, five floors, but now when I start getting the first floor, the bottom ones, then I need to start adding some antennas onto the system. So there are companies out there that would just throw in tennis throughout the entire building. What we're going to do is design a system to not oversaturate the signal inside the building, guaranteed at work. We're only going to install antennas where we need them to be.

Is it is in the code and a lot of people say, well, this is new to us. Really. It's been in the code since 2009. It was first in the national building code. And you all the international building code is just refers back to the international fire code, section 5-10 of the code.

And what we did too, is I looked at the code in Ohio. Currently the Ohio 2017 code is based off of IFC 2015 code. So what we did was we created a nice handy reference guide. It has four columns, two for NFPA, two for IFC, 2015, 2018 code. So in the back, if you want to grab one, so you don't have to go searching for it. We tell you all the different sections where it really affects the code for the need for bi-directional amplifiers or in-building radio communications out there.

So in the fire code, it was first in 2009, of course, in 2009, it was in the impending of the code since it was in the appendix of the international fire code. And that pretty thick code? No one ever gets to it.

Then in 2012, it was adopted into the main text of the code. And then there's versions of 2015 and 2018. So always making changes as we move forward.

So in Section 5-10 of the code, they talk about new building construction. In section 1103.2 talks about existing buildings. So there are different parts of the code where we talk about new and old. So if I look at Ohio state code, which they adopted off of IFC as of January 1st, 2017, any newly constructed building that you need to have proper radio coverage and do with them survey, they said I looked at, read the code again and it said they are not going to retroactively.

So any buildings built before they, or pulled a permit before January, 2017, you don't have to make any changes. You don't have to worry about bi-directional empires, but after January 1st, if you have an existing building and you pull a permit to change the building, then you need to have proper radio cupboard. So as long as you don't make any changes to the building, then you don't have to worry about it.

So each state is going to handle this individually. If I take Florida, Florida has made the thing by the end of 2019, every commercial building has to be surveyed. I don't care as a hospital, down to a gas station, to a daycare center.

Every single building by the end of this year has to be serving. If it's determined that you don't have proper radio coverage, you have within two years to comply. And if it's a five, if it's a high rise residential, you have within five years to comply and get it up to code. So how they've taken it? I said, Ohio, I looked at they're only going to go moving forward unless you change the construction of the existing building. So in NFPA 72, it was first introduced in section two, 2010 inspection, 24.5.2, When this really was into the code, that chapter 24 covers emergency communication systems. And this was the, the changes in the code were in 2010, something can override a fire alarm system prior to 2010, you pull the pull station. You can't ever override that. Now it's only pull the full station. We know there's active shooters schools and they were concerned.

You can push a button and say, disregard the fire alarm shelter in place, go into lockdown and you can override it. That was first introduced in 2010. Really what this came down to was in high rise applications, where it was required, that you had a firefighter telephone hardwire system in a high rise application. You can augment that with this radio communications, because in reality, you talked to first responders and firefighters don't even know where even to go find that red phone, and you can only talk to six and mom, then you got to get to a spot where the port is. They don't know where it is so effectively they weren't using anyways. And so now you can use the radios as a supplementary in 2016 of the code, it was moved from NFPA 72 and to NFPA 1221. And this really when took as a primary, this is now a primary communication method for first responders.

When they go inside ability where in the 72, it was secondary. Now it's primary. They've made some updates in the 2016 and 19 of the codes in the IFC 5-10 code. And then you also talked about signal strength that you have to have 95% of all areas to meet the signal strength. So 95% means that if you have a office building and you take, you have to take 20 samples per floor, when it comes down to is you can fail one spot of those 20 samples. Once you felt two, if it falls below 95% and therefore you fail the test, a bi-directional amplifier or something needs to be in place. Now, nowhere in the code, does it ever say that you need a bi-directional amplifiers? What it says is you need to have ample radio coverage within a building. Then however you boost that signal up to make sure you get above 95%.

That's where a bi-directional empires in other technologies get there. Nothing says have to have a bi-directional. It says you have to have proper radio coverage inside there. It's also in the international fire code is 95 DB. That's the signal strength. So if you walk around this radio has to be a Harris tape radio. It actually has a built-in DB meter directly on here. And if it's a major city, you can walk around and you can keep on signals from there and look at what it is. You could use a spectrum analyzer to, to get the same information, but they've determined 95 DB is the minimum that you can do for radio coverage that you can understand. So there's an inbound and outbound. The reason why I bring this about inbound and outbound is designers of the system needs to compensate for a radio. Traditionally, a radio repeater tower is a 50 watt 50 watts coming off to the tower.

Does anyone think this is a 50 watt radio? It's probably like a 3 watt radio. So it's about a 13 DB difference. So if I'm reading 95 DB, that's coming off the tower, I need to have 82 DB because I need to compensate about 13 DB difference for the signal strength of this is less about 13 DB. So I'd have to make sure I have to plan an additional 13 DB to get back out the side of the building to meet that 95 DB out there. So it's something that we need to look when we're designing systems to making sure that we look at inbound and outbound communication.

So critical areas coverage. What NFPA also did is they looked at areas that they determined was where first responders mostly congregate. So even though IFC had called out for 95%, and if the EA determined these areas, they want 99%. So essentially every single time, one of these eight locations that you have to have a hundred percent video coverage, emergency command centers, exit stairs, elevator libraries, sprinkler valve locations, traditionally where first responders would go B go to that's, where they need to have it. The general areas, like I said, to be 90, if you're looking at the codes, when you grab it, that 90 is already in all the codes that moving forward, moved up to 95, it started at 90. Now all the codes are a base that 95. And what NFPA also determined was that the bi-directional amplifier is to have a dedicated annunciator is adjusting.

You know, it sits on a, you know, a four gang box, you know, four by four square box. Now this is also has to be supervised. So even the led burns out that I have to know that there's a problem with this annunciator. So right now it's six things that we need to directly off the bi-directional fire. One of the things too is on NFPA. I didn't quite understand this cause I'm like, why do I have to have this? Enunciator when in the code, it says the bi-directional amplifiers shall not, should be, shall be monitored by a fire alarm control panel. So if I'm monitoring the BDA with my fire alarm panel, then it has its off-premise reporting. Why do I need a second enunciator? Fighting with them. We didn't win.

So you're going to have to have this dedicated annunciator. They said, well, if you lose that communication from the BDA, the fire panel, you wouldn't know the active status. So now the biggest debate out there is now with AHJs and every AHJ you're going to talk to is going to have a different opinion. Now, where do I mount this annunciator because the traditional say in a high rise application, a bi-directional amplifiers towards the top floor where a traditional fire panel is on the first floor. So some people say, well, I want to know when I walk in the building and certain days AHJ says, no, I want it next to the BDA. So if I go up there certain AHJs, like, well, why don't we travel 12 floors to find what's wrong on the bi-directional? So you're just going to have a debate of what, or this, you know, directly as being installed for me, I don't really care, but it comes down to the AHJ.

Some concerns from the AHJ's when you're doing bi-directional empires improper installation or failure can lead to oscillation. Oscillation is basically take down the system and usually where you've seen things where you, you, if I flicked up this radio and that's why it's not on, and I put closer to the, to the the microphone, you hear that screeching that's really oscillation is to radio signals complied. Then there's also a noise uplink to guaranteeing that I'm not sending spurious information and signals out there into the space.

Your assistant may go on notice with proper monitoring to making sure that when we're monitoring of the system and then the competency of the systems designer. One of the things is that we, we look to is, you know, I talked to a lot of AHJs we've been around the country for about a year, when it comes down to is, and I was just in Sioux Falls is if I take down their system for any reason, you know what they're gonna do to me, they're gonna tell me you shut that thing off and never turn it on. And you are not to install another piece of equipment on my public safety network. So we're making new, we need to make sure that we ensure that we're doing proper installation, of their products.

So some of the things that we can do is oscillation suppression. Now this well we're requirement though, even though we designed it to do this, now it's an official requirement and UL 25, 24, that all BDAs have oscillation prevention or suppress. What it does is you have to have a 20 DB separation of the signal that's coming from the outside source radio tower and the tenants that you have installed within the building. You have to keep a 20 DB separation. Now, if for any reason, the bi-directional of a fire failed, or one of the antennas failed, and it started oscillation is required by code. Now that you step down your signal by five DBS until you stop oscillating. And if it goes below 20, and you're just checking yourself, Bob, now, what it will do was generated trouble, send it to the fire, the panel, and an off-premise reporting. Now, you know, to go take a look at your bi-directional empire. So that's now part of the code, the hall you will, this oscillation prevention.

Most BDS generate a small amount of noise when it's idle and going back on our system. What we're going to do is we don't transmit out until someone clicks up in my, so we're always receiving, but we don't transmit into someone clicks the radio at that time, then we're sending out this thing. So we don't send out any messages until you get the click of the radio, a squat or the radio, some people call it.

So some of the compliance with international fire codes and FBA is I talked about the supervision and monitoring, even though we talked about UL 25, 24 did you go when you make changes? That was two weeks after they released the first edition of it. The next version that they're gonna come out with is this is going to have to have eight LEDs. There's two more things we're had to monitor off of it. And that it also, they're going to have to have a Paz an audible sound on the enunciator Jo. So it wasn't two weeks after they released the thing. They already made changes as we move forward. And they now want to a ULI UL, eight 64 lists that power survive like a fire alarm panels, power supply for bi-directional amplifiers as we move forward.

So you will list a power supplies are now in the code, a battery backup. It was at 24 hours. All the codes now change in 2018 is dropping down to 12, but on the change, my product, because it's designed for 24. Now the codes are changing down to 12. I'm not going to change my power supply because it's reduced on there. NEMA four enclosure. So we have to sit there with a water hose and sprinkle it down. And then a supervise dedicated monitoring panel. There is a electric shock and safety plus UL 25, 24. It's also has to be FCC compliant, all our products that anything that you do with radio things are traditional fire panels. We have to bring to FCC making sure we're not sending out various things elements of a true life safety each you all 25, 24 listed B days installed by factory certified system technician.

So it is required by the national fire code that the installer and the designer and the person who's doing the survey is certified by FCC for a general radio operators license. I did the co I did the course. It was three days. I got my license. And also then the other thing is you have to be trained by the manufacturer of the product. So we're guaranteeing that, you know, these people are trained, but once he gave him back to the thing is I take it out in the system. Once they're never going to let me install it on onto that public safety network, again, standardize the training and tools and equipment. One of the things people keep on saying, well, I'm sure I can go to China and everything and buy all this stuff direct. The problem is we sell all the components for the system because we're guaranteeing that we know when we tested it, you buy it from there. I don't know where you're installing that network. Like I said, our names on the product. And so as our M or protections name is on the product when they sell it.

So this is the first fire life safety to market. The hit you all 25, 24 that's out there. So Notifier and Honeywell I've come to the market. We've partnered with a company in Boston called Radio sSolutions. You will never see them in this area because they only sell them the Boston market area. And that's already have a contract to do out there. So it's an inclusive, all turnkey solution. You said the power supplies, the battery backup, everything is contained into one unit. You don't have to source it. Everything out independently, independent national recognized testing lab being UL and making sure that we have zero noise on there. So is it regulated? Yes. I said you all 25, 24, we're going to look to this as like a light stage is like a fire panel. Whether they ask you is that fire panel, you all eight 64 less than the very seldom does the NFPA 72 chapter, whatever it is that you all eight 64.

Now there is a code and it's UL 25, 24. It was first adopted in October of 2018. We had gotten our product UL listed in June prior to that, because it was out there for an outline him investigation, as long as we don't change it. So we're grandfathered for 18 months on to do the if we don't change the design of the system. So a lot of times that's why you haven't seen it into the code is because it was only adopted in October of 2018. As we move forward. All the signal Booz has to be certified by the FCC. And one of the things too is I'll take Colorado for a quick example of it is someone installed a bi-directional amplifier. And for six months there was oscillation and took down the system. What happens is they never registered the bi-directional amplifier with the FCC and what happened was so they took him six months to find it. If they registered it with the FCC, you would have had the manufacturer's ID and the FCC of the local community. One of the pinpoints say, if I only have 10 systems, now I'm searching 10 buildings instead of hundreds of buildings out there, I'm sure. After six months there was a hefty fine, that was replaced. And they're poverished told to shut it off and never turn it back on again.

So how do AJS specify ensure compliance really comes down to frequency. This is our systems can do multiple frequencies. We can do them 700 megahertz. We can do 800 megahertz. We can do VHF. We can do UHF. Well, it comes down to whatever the local municipality is. Their radios are communicating on, but 85% of the radios and estimates I've done, I've done probably 1500 in the last year is 85% is for 700, 800. But the reason is 700 and 800 is that I can do the entire bandwidth. So typically in most first responders come in, you have fire attack wall, and you have fire track. Two, you have EMS, you have police. As long as anyone in that 800 megahertz range, the radios will work. If you use VHF and UHF, I specifically know that need to know the upload frequency and the download frequency. And then anyone's radios that come in and they're not specifically to that one. Then they wouldn't communicate out there.

They said the survey, it is by code at 20 samples per floor. And you need to measure the upload and the download frequency. And then this would be submitted. If everything is perfectly fine, you submit the building saying everything has passed. And I said, it has to be done by a licensed person with an STC license to do the survey. We will design a system using IB wave, which is a very expensive, predictive heat map. So even if the builder's not out of the out of the ground yet, how can you possibly do a survey? So Whitely news, we do a prediction of it. So you give us all the building materials and types. We project. Typically what we do is give you an estimate not to exceed. So we're over-saturate and put, put those antennas on the top floors. I said that we may not eat when you do the survey. Now the bill of material will come down less. No one complains when you have to spend less than, you know. So we're designed for the worst case. If the building's not out there yet, I talked about the the signal boosters. It is required. I said that you registered with the FCC, and this is where now that you register, we can determine if something happens. It's one of these 10 buildings versus a hundred buildings you're searching out there. So I could have found it was probably in a couple days versus six months.

The last thing I'm going to talk about is I don't think it's in Ohio. I was just in Florida. They have, it is certain jurisdictions. I don't know if you've ever heard about a class, a versus class B in FCC terms and radio RF has nothing to do what we understand with class a and B from the fire alarm panels that are out there. But class a says was I talked about the 800 megahertz system where I can do the entire bandwidth and class day says, I can only do a maximum of 75 kilohertz of this radio. And now I'm limiting the bandwidth. It's good in is bad. Cause people's like, well, what about con collisions and stuff like that in the city of Boston's or 650 buildings with class B bi-directional empires, and there's no signal across, cause you're not allowed to boost your signal outside the building.

People are on the mindset they could be bomb is now you're chopping off. So you're doing data processing, you're chopping it up. So you get latency and you also get distortion I'm out there. So we will have one right now today. It's a class B system by the end of the year, we will have a class day. So if you're ever run in a jurisdiction and says they want class a or protection and us will have this at the end of the year, but most of them are class B. I just know certain areas in California, one County in Florida, and one County in in Georgia.

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