Public Safety Radio Coverage Requirements for Developers

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What is a Signal Booster?


Radio CoverageReliable Wireless Communications is an absolute necessity today. Radios are lifelines to first-responders. The public expects first responders to provide their services no matter where the citizen may be; on public and private property alike.

Modern fire and police systems use portable radios as their primary communications device. That means ubiquitous coverage is expected wherever handheld radio may be carried; basements, high rise buildings, parking structures, etc.

Public safety wireless communications has evolved into wireless systems which are highly dependent upon handheld or 'handset' communications. The use of handsets provide user mobility into any location an individual may go, such as in-buildings, basements tunnels and other places older mobile radio usage was not practical or possible.

Operation of wireless equipment requires a radio path between the handset and the rest of the communications system. Radio signals are greatly reduced when passing through earthen barriers and dense construction materials making in-building and underground wireless communications unreliable or impossible without taking additional actions.

Radio signals may be re-distributed within obstructed areas by the use of special coaxial cables, fiber optics and indoor antennas (see diagram). These signals, however, usually require amplification to overcome the losses of the distribution system to be effective. The most common solution involves the use of special amplifier devices called 'signal boosters' by the Federal Communications Commission, who has federal jurisdiction of the use of such devices. Other terms such as 'Bi-Directional Amplifier' or 'BDA' are industry jargon for signal boosters, all meaning the same device.

Tempe's In-Building Coverage Ordinance:

Implementing in-building coverage codes is like requiring fire sprinkler systems. And like sprinkler systems many years ago, the adoption of in-building codes is rapidly evolving from a unique requirement to a standard practice.

The Implementation of signal boosters within larger properties, both public and privately owned, is becoming a commonplace solution. The use of signal boosters is critical to the welfare of public safety personnel in the performance of their duties.

There are costs associated with the implementation of signal booster systems which most private building owners naturally resist, so local codes and ordinances have become the vehicle to provide a balance between public necessity and private interests.

The City of Tempe has put into place such an ordinance. This ordinance (ord. 2007.54, 9-16-2007) provides for, and ensures, Public Safety Radio standards are adhered to in the development process.

If you are a Developer, Architect or Contractor seeking to build in Tempe, the following link will provide a detailed understanding of the City's requirements and compliance process as it relates to Public Safety Radio standards. 

Click HERE to download Developer Requirements