Changes in Building and Fire Codes for In-Building Emergency Responder Radio Coverage and How They Affect Your Radio System
Presenters: Cheryl Giggetts and Edwin Nettleton
In recent years, standards dictating how well radios communicate inside buildings became more stringent in an effort to improve public safety communications. In 2015 and 2016, NFPA and IFC dictated how well radios can communicate in buildings, setting requirements.
These standards address five primary areas: coverage, equipment enclosures, antenna isolation, minimum signal strength and redundancy.
Edward Nettleton, a communications engineer for AECOM’s technology solutions group, told session attendees Sunday afternoon that if these recommendations are adopted by your state or jurisdiction, you could see more buildings being constructed with a BDA or DAS system and an increase in inspection and testing of those systems on your public safety radio system. While this additional construction will increase coverage for all public safety responders in your area, there are also greater opportunities for additional interference from "leakage" from the in-building system. This new construction may also impact how you plan to design and update an existing radio system or install a new one.
Today, some jurisdictions are experiencing interference from BDA or DAS systems, causing the receiver for the control channel in a trunked radio system to become desensitized so the channel is not activated to transmit radio calls. Interference has also be caused by light fixtures and electronics, such as copiers and electric blankets inside a building with a BDA or DAS system in the 700 MHz range.
Nettleton recommends local fire departments take an active role in inspecting new construction to ensure compliance with these updated standards to protect both radio system credibility and public safety responder safety.
- Stephen Martini, ENP
APCO Leadership Program: Certified Public-Safety Executive Program
Presenters: Dr. Timothy Scanlon, Dr. Steven Edwards, Charles Vitale, RPL, CPE
Leading public safety communications in the 21st century will require leaders who are not only management savvy, but who serve as thought leaders for their agency and engage in national industry changes and challenges.
This presentation provided information and firsthand student experiences of APCO's two leadership programs: Certified Public-Safety Executive (CPE) and Registered Public-Safety Leader (RPL). The presenters discussed course descriptions and content, including communications, negotiations, self-discovery, and the CPE capstone seminar. Graduates have found that these learning experiences have transformed their personal and professional leadership perspectives and prepared them for the challenges of leading the industry into the future.
(Courtesy of the presenters)
Text-to-9-1-1, The Past, Present and Future
Presenters: Michael Alagna and Megan Bixler
Text-to-9-1-1 brings with it many complex issues for which practitioners, standards bodies and private industry must all work together to craft solutions to ensure that text-to-9-1-1 provides the same level of service as voice-to-9-1-1. Many requirements must be met, including:
- Political requirements
- Funding requirements
- Technical requirements, and most importantly,
- Operational requirements
Most of this presentation was dedicated to translation services and the challenges presented by providing this service with text-to-9-1-1. It helped the audience understand how this issue is looming on the near-term horizon and how in some cases, such as Palm Beach, Florida, it is delaying the implementation of their text-to-9-1-1 project.
Some questions posed by members of the audience, not related to translation services, remain undecided. These questions addressed topics such as:
- The low uptake of text-to-9-1-1 by citizens
- Are technologies like Facebook, Snapchat, and other communication methods replacing texting?
- Should technology drive operational workflows, or should workflow direct technical solutions?
But as Michael Alagna said, "The IJIS Institute is dedicated to working with practitioners and providers to find solutions to encourage adoption of text-to-9-1-1." Megan Bixler also pointed out, "...some of these solutions are transitional solutions, and will evolve over time".
- Matthew Schreiner
PSAP Consolidation in 5 months
Presenter: Stephen Martini, ENP
Is your PSAP facing a consolidation under a time crunch? If so, it is critical to understand the realistic opportunities and challenges you are facing and prioritize accordingly. In a perfect world, there are sixteen items needing to be addressed prior to consolidating PSAPs: leadership, politics, staffing, issues involved with combining staff, training, media, equipment, combining services, operating in the interim while building the new center, employee retention, hiring new staff, public education, funding, consensus building, adding new services or maintaining existing services.
But perfect doesn’t consider uncontrollable x-factors. Elected leaders may have political goals to consolidate a PSAP by a certain date. Short-staffed agencies may not have enough personnel to conduct daily operations now and can’t wait for the perfect plan to come together. Agencies who see consolidation coming may stop hiring completely or hire the wrong people because they don’t have a long-term investment.
You likely won’t consolidate with a well-trained, fully-staffed crew, and if you do, some of those may still leave within the first 18 months. Financial deadlines may also dictate the timeline, so make sure you dedicate the right amount of money to achieve the goal to make sure you’ll arrive alive. Perhaps you define an interim plan (something that works for the first few years) and agree to revisit the cost of consolidation once operations are firmly established. Prioritize what must occur in order to consolidate successfully and focus on those goals. There will be more wish list items than funds and time to accomplish, but this can be achieved in future fiscal years!
So what are your priorities? Critical technology (CAD, phone, radio, NCIC), staffing and training. All others items can be maintained at their current level and improved after all operations are successfully functioning in the same place!
(Courtesy of the presenter)