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Public Safety Signal Boosters: All You Need To Know!

Mar 28, 2018

Public Safety Signal Boosters: All You Need To Know!

Public Safety Signal Boosters provide the strong signals needed to enable dispatched first responders to communicate wirelessly without hindrence to their critical lifesaving work. Building interiors have wireless dead zones that can cause wireless communication disruptions which can cost lives. In times of disasters and emergencies, federal agency employees such as first responders require a two-way working communication to respond rapidly.

Firefighters, EMS (emergency medical services), police and other diverse first responders are always responding to man-made and natural disasters threatening the safety of the public on a daily basis. With metal buildings and buildings with reinforced concrete, interior of buildings become wireless dead zones like a Faraday Cage - Cell phone 4G LTE nor 2-way radio public safety bands and frequencies penetrate such buildings.

Therefore, to effectively ensure public safety is guaranteed, counties and cities across United States now demand National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA 72) and/or International Code Council (ICC) codes be followed in new buildings and major renovations of existing constructions for public safety. Just like in other mandatory requirements such as accessibility, working fire sprinklers and plumbing in a world where disasters can strike at any moment, enhancing radio frequency for public safety is a pivotal requirement. 

Very few commercial buildings today have sufficiently renovated or equipped to guarantee public safety communication. Occupation in most is forbidden until they have complied and obtained Certificate of Occupation. This is where public safety signal boosters come in. In addition to installation of public safety signal boosting system, provides SureCall Sentry remote monitoring system to ensure the system works perfectly, permanently.

Disrupted signal hamper first response efforts.

All radio frequencies, including public safety frequencies along the VHF/UHF, 800 MHz, 700 MHz, 150MHz, Low Band (25-50) and 4.9GHz and 5.9GHz are susceptible to various interferences just like FM/AM, Wi-Fi and cell phone frequencies. Among others, building materials have been found to cause serious in-building radio frequency interferences. These include:

  • Low e-glass, cement, metal, rebar, glass, concrete plus other conductive material that weaken cellular signals.
  • Radio frequencies shielded sections like equipment rooms, basements, elevators and stairwells plus other rooms with thick walls resulting in cellular coverage dead zones.
  • Heavy-duty, industrial and strong legacy buildings with thick interior and exterior walks acting as RF signal shield.
  • Greener buildings built with ecological, energy conservation and sustainability principles in mind such as LEED-certified buildings causing reflection of radio frequency signals through their heat and energy efficient materials.

If first responders rush into emergency areas where immediate action is needed to save lives and property, a disrupted coverage put their lives, victims and property at risk. This is why ICC and NFPA regulations demand in-building cellular coverage improvement.

Public safety codes diverse across the board.

Across USA, different cities, counties and states have their diverse no-size-fits-all public safety requirements. They all amend, accept, create and adopt sections of ICC and NFPA codes that would work for their locations and apply diverse standards of fire safety differently.

Jurisdictions have unique radio networks for first responders with thousands of radio networks across the U.S. Through FirstNet, the country has been trying to create a single nationwide public safety wireless broadband network through AT&T. FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority) was launched in 2012 with the mission of building, operating and maintaining first nationwide high-speed network for use in public safety operations through the 700MHz RF spectrum. Jurisdictions will share a single network to avoid proliferation of incompatible radio equipment and networks.

NPSBN (Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network) is the first US unified first responder public safety coverage network for US Marshals, firefighters, police, EMS among other public safety professionals.

What are the various ICC and NFPA requirements?

  • ICC and NFPA 72 require alarm system failure warnings (from repeater, antenna to power failure warnings).
  • NFPA 72 code demands 99 percent coverage in all critical building areas and 90 percent for other areas.
  • All equipment from battery, repeater and component systems must be enclosed in NEMA 4 or NEMA 3R to prevent water, fire and other lethal elements.
  • ICC and NFPA 72 require battery backup lasting for 12 hours at least.
  • Cellular strength by ICC and NFPA 72 codes must be a minimum -95 dB at any given time to allow first responders to make outbound and inbound communication (another code requirement is a grid and DAQ 3.4 test rather than coverage strength using public safety grid tester). Professional public safety grid testing service available that provides accurate reports required by AHJ for Certificate of Occupancy).

Why public safety codes are a huge priority.

In situations of intense emergencies, instant communication becomes a lifeline and a matter of life and death, especially where power is also affected. Mass shootings in public places and schools, terrorist attacks and natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes demand clear and uninterrupted communication. Otherwise, chaos will ensue. Poor mobile coverage mean victims who need first response to save their lives won’t send critical communication while firefighters, EMS and police will probably prioritize other areas. Recovery efforts and emergency support are also hampered, delayed or not provided. Delays even for a few minutes or seconds could simply mean saving lives or letting affected individuals suffer or even die.

Other codes used in the United States.

Apart from NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code) and ICC codes others are highly important, such as:

  • NFPA 70/NEC (National Electric Code) offering guidelines to safe wiring installation and design across U.S.A.
  • NFPA 70e/Electric Safety at the Workplace Standard establishing safety warnings and requirements to aid employees and companies avoid such workplace hazards as electrocution and shock through safety workplace practices, requirements and maintenance.
  • Standard Installation of Sprinkler Systems/NFPA 13 that ascertains industry specifications for automated fire sprinkling systems from installation, component varieties to design.
  • Identification of Material Hazards for Emergency Response Standard System/NFPA 701 providing testing methods to ascertain flame/flammability retardancy in architectural structure textiles, including window shades and curtains.
  • IFC (International Fire Code of 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015 among others) updated every three years with codes used across 42 states and updates fire safety and conditions for public safety and health in buildings.
  • IBC (International Building Code) of 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015 among others also updated after three years offer modern and new building installation and design codes to maintain public safety through continual usage of fresher smart technologies.

Fire and public safety compliant cellular signal solutions.

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) in buildings is at the top of all firsthand and fastest-growing public safety solutions. DAS systems are made up of an amplifying system improving first response frequencies for public safety. With lots of DAS technologies in the market today, Passive DAS and Active DAS systems are the most in-building cellular coverage amplification solutions. Both boost radio frequency effectively for public safety use but glaring differences exist. Similarities include unobtrusive interior broadcast antennas that boost mobile signals across all floors and every square foot of multi-storey buildings. Signal source for Passive DAS is a powerful donor antenna on top of the building to catch maximum signal that can be amplified. Signal source for Active DAS is a direct service provider signal feed which is then dispersed across the property using discreet antennas that broadcast that signal. The following outline the main differences:

Active DAS.

Active DAS operates through connection to a core provider network. Conversion from analog signal to digital signal is done and relayed via fiber optic system to enhance the integrity of the signal irrespective of the coverage area or cable length. In the process, the signal is enhanced efficiently, though very expensive due to the need for specialized cabling solutions and equipment. It also requires approval from every carrier, a laborious and bureaucratic procedure that could take months or years.

Active DAS costs about $5-$10 for each square feet covered making the solution not only time consuming but very expensive in contrast with DAS systems. Active DAS solutions are good for covering areas over 500,000 square feet such as convention centers, stadia, airports, and skyscrapers among other gigantic venues. Due to coverage range and RF boosting, Active DAS is very effective.

Passive DAS.

Largely referred to as bidirectional repeaters or amplifiers, Passive DAS amplify outer signal and rebroadcast it indoors. Permission to install Passive DAS through public safety signal booster installation services are faster. A typical web form to a carrier that doesn't really require a response is all there's to it. However, majority of systems are commercial grade and require installation by certified installers. The cost of Passive DAS installations is also way cheaper than Active DAS at about $1 for every square foot depending upon complexity of construction and severity of lack of signal issues. For buildings below 500,000 square feet, public safety two-way radio signal boosters (Passive DAS) are fast to deploy and highly cost-effective. Public safety signal boosters are able to improve public safety frequencies without a problem within the 900MHz, 800MHz and 700MHz ranges. This enhances first response communication, particularly inside buildings with poor and weak signals in highly critical building sections. Public safety cellular coverage amplifiers are available in multiple-directional and multiple band capacities (such as the SureCall Guardian 3 QR as highlighted in a press release shown at APCO International website). APCO stands for Association of Public Safety Communications. It is the world's largest and oldest organization of professionals involved with public safety communications.

Public safety two way radio signal boosters are perfect for offices, warehouses, schools, banks, hotels, retail center, manufacturing plants and hospitals. Public safety signal booster installers can take a few hours, days or weeks or less to effectively install a typical Public Safety Passive DAS (Distributed Antenna System). All required service provider approvals and local fire department certifications are obtained by signal booster installers after testing the system to ensure that it meets or exceeds technical requirements of signal strength levels within stated percentage of interior building areas. Usually the Fire Marshal is very pleased with the wide spectrum coverage signal boost our signal amplifier provides covering 700, 800, 900 MHz SMR bands and frequencies.

Where public safety signal boosters are needed.

A few seconds to a minute's delay in correspondence among first responders due to weak cellular coverage could lead to devastating effects the responders want to prevent from occurring or deteriorating. This is the reason why public safety and fire codes implementation has always been done across cities, counties and states around the nation. These codes also require a proper enhancement of cellular communication such as public safety signal boosters in diverse public areas where a lot of people congregate or get together from stadiums, airports, elevators, hotels, universities, parking garages, multi-story buildings to shopping malls.

Public safety signal booster must meet laid guidelines.

Prior to selecting the public safety radio signal booster of choice, ensure it meets AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) guidelines, which is not a specific organization or group. It simply refers to the building's location, building type and the authorities there who have jurisdiction. For instance, a personal residence and a university have separate AHJ. The professional public safety signal booster installer service you use can help ensure you have met all local government and other applying requirements for signal booster's installation. We must ensure proper inspections have been done in your building and certified.

To ascertain the type of public safety signal amplifier you require, ensure you know the total space to be enhanced. The building type and AHJ is important here. An expert public safety signal booster service can help you determine the total space in need of signal amplification through an extensive site survey across the building including all building floors, stairwells, elevators among others.

Also ensure the public safety 2-way radio signal booster is compliant to FirstNet. Considering FirstNet is rapidly strengthening its first response regulations for first response needs and professionals, selecting a complied amplifier with the body is also an assurance that the public safety cellular booster has conformed with current and future regulations and building codes.

Have a comment or question on how to improve your public safety cellular signal today? We will be delighted to help you safeguard the lives of employees, guests, customers and everyone else including property with the most up-to-date and top-tech public safety signal booster solution that has met all the codes and regulations in place. We can install both public safety band signal boosting system and 4G LTE cell phone signal boosting system side by side to ensure all those using wireless devices whether emergency 2-way radios or regular smart cell phones can all access their respective networks to communicate seamlessly throughout the building. Please get in touch with us today.

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  • Public safety signal boosters sound like an EMS worker’s best friend (or at least a very close friend). Being able to talk to your home base seems like a given, but it’s not when you go inside a building. I’ve lost signals going into an office or parking garage so I’m sure it’s even worse for EMS people.

    Lakesha Owens on
  • A public safety bidirectional booster is just what firefighters, law enforcement, and other first responders need to stay in touch with each other when they go into a building. The reason is simple—big buildings are often surrounded by obstacles that weaken or reduce radio signals along with interior materials that do the same (just imagine what it’s like when you try making a call in an elevator). First responders will greatly benefit from these boosters because they boost their wirelsss signals so they can talk to each other, making for better and more steady communication.

    Henry Rhodes on
  • Thank goodness for Surecall and their public safety signal extenders. I’ve been in the business field for many years and it’s remarkable how much cell phones have taken over in the workplace, even over landlines at times. However, cell phones have that pesky problem of dropping calls, something that’s not good for business. Did you just hang up on your number one client? That’s bad enough, but the problem is much worse for first responders answering an emergency call. Picture them going into a skyscraper and their radios can’t get through to their base because of the materials in the building (different things such as steel, concrete, and even glass can reduce or block signals, resulting in poor reception or dead zones where you can’t make or receive calls). That’s the last thing a firefighter wants. Fortunately, public safety signal extenders will boost the public safety wireless signals, so first responders have the power to make calls, take calls, and hear what the other person is saying.

    Billy Robertson on
  • Just think about how mandatory plumbing, fire sprinklers, and accessibility provisions have made it easier for first responders to do their work. Think about it for a minute. A firefighter goes into a building and tries to radio their location because there are multiple civilians trapped. What if he or she can’t communicate? Every second that is lost could make the difference between rescue and disaster. Speaking of disasters, public safety signal boosters are about more than fires. What if there is an earthquake or a hurricane? First responders and disaster response agencies need to be able to communicate so they can perform their jobs. I’m sure anyone in Hawaii who has had the benefit of a public safety signal booster can tell you how important it is for people responding to the volcano disaster to have strong signals to communicate with. Imagine when you’re talking with a friend and the call drops. Now imagine a firefighter talking with another firefighter and their call dropping due to a weak signal. Surecall’s public safety boosters are essential.
    Billy Kendrick on
  • Surecall makes many different devices, but it’s difficult to think of anything as important as a public safety radio reception booster. I’ve always wondered what kind of situation firefighters and EMS workers find themselves in when they go into a building with all sorts of materials capable of interfering with their signals. The idea that these boosters will ensure clear and dependable communication is nothing less than brilliant. I hope these public safety signal boosters are commonplace as they sound like they’re not only a wise investment but a crucial one. How can society expect its heroes to perform their jobs without effective communication, especially when there is a proven way to deliver this communication. If a firefighter or other first responder enters a structure, they should have 100% assurance they can talk to their colleagues and anyone else they need to.

    Jacob Ellsworth Jr. on
  • It looks like Surecall is boosting public safety for first responders wherever they happen to be. Public safety radio reception amplifiers sound like they can save lives by providing clear and uninterrupted communication between first responders. Undoubtedly, people looking for help from first responders will take comfort knowing the first responders won’t have to waste time repeating themselves or trying to reconnect with someone they’ve lost touch with due to a bad signal. If you’ve been in an elevator, you know how much they can interfere with cell phone signals. Now imagine this throughout a building as first responders find their signals cut off due to building materials. That won’t happen with public safety radio boosters strengthening signals throughout a structure.

    Simon Edwards III on
  • Public safety bidirectional amplifiers may sound like complicated devices to understand, but they’re actually simple—they save firefighters’ lives by providing reliable communication while they’re rescuing people and putting out fires. The same goes for police officers who need to stay in touch with their fellow officers. A public safety radio reception amplifier will make sure they don’t have delays. If you’ve ever watched a fire or police drama, you know how first responders need every second they can to save lives, prevent disasters, and stop tragedies from happening. First responders don’t want to have to repeat themselves or ask for a message to be repeated. It could end up leading to injury or death for them or for the people they are trying to save.

    Bobby Stonewall on
  • If you’re a first responder or know someone who is, you probably know how essential it is for them to be able to keep in touch with their fellow brothers and sisters during a call. Things can get deadly in the blink of an eye. That means they can’t afford to be in a building and lose their signal. That’s why these public safety radio signal boosters are so important in buildings. It gives first responders the signal power they need to stay in touch. Otherwise, there’s a good chance they’ll run into a dead zone and I’m not being facetious, this could become a literal dead zone if they run into trouble and can’t contact anyone for help.

    Andy Pearson on
  • All I can say is that it’s about time! These public safety signal amplifiers are lifelines for first responders. I’ve seen different terms for these such as public safety radio reception boosters, public safety radio reception amplifiers, and public safety radio signal boosters, but they all mean one thing—increased communication power for first responders so they can keep in touch with each other. This is a great invention and I’m glad the government is finally setting up standards so they are installed where needed.

    Terry Hammer on
  • Tony asks: On a smaller scale, what is the one thing you don’t regret buying? For me, it was my cell phone. What about others? I can’t imagine life without my cell phone. I don’t use it for things like surfing the net or checking email, but they are nice to have. It’s mind-boggling how much cell phones can do for me whether it’s talk, text, access my music, take pictures, or the many apps out there. I know this isn’t quite what you asked, but I would say I don’t think I’d regret buying a cell phone booster. My cell phone’s coverage is weak in my home and I want to get rid of my landline. However, I won’t feel comfortable until I have a strong signal. That’s why I want a cell phone booster and feel it’d be a good purchase. They’ve gone way down in price and seem better (and easier to use) than ever.

    Burt Fowler on
  • This looks like an essential item for any building. On a smaller scale, what is the one thing you don’t regret buying? For me, it was my cell phone. What about others?

    Tony Higgins on
  • Thanks for explaining how public safety signal boosters work. We’ve all had problems getting a signal in buildings, but can you imagine what it’s like when a firefighter or other first responder can’t get in touch with their crew? It could cost one or more lives. I’m glad there are public safety das systems, but I am concerned there is no standard across the country. It’s good that people are working on implementing universal regulations, but it’s scary to think a public safety signal booster in Houston, Texas might have different regulations than one in Dallas, Texas (I am understanding this correctly?)

    Miles Duggan on

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