Up to Code: Public Safety DAS and NFPA 72


For building operators, keeping up to code can be a full-time job. Regulations and requirements are constantly being updated, can vary by location and aren’t always enforced. Regulations for public safety wireless are established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Fire Code (IFC). 

The NFPA, a United States trade organization, drafted NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which provides the latest safety provisions to meet society’s changing fire detection, signaling and emergency communications demands.

Video: Reliable Public Safety Communications System Requirements

In addition to fire alarms, the code includes requirements for mass notification systems used for weather emergencies, terrorist events, and biological, chemical and nuclear emergencies, among other threats.

NFPA 72 requires the use of a public safety distributed antenna system (DAS) strictly for use by first responders. While DAS can be essential for tenants or personnel within your building to communicate effectively on an everyday basis, public safety DAS is installed to enable first responders within the building to communicate during an emergency. It must be on a different spectrum than commercial wireless and cover the entire building, including basements and stairwells – areas you likely aren’t concerned with having commercial wireless. Public safety DAS must also have backup in case of an outage.

Current NFPA 72 code consists of the following:

Critical Areas, such as the fire command center(s), the fire pump room(s), exit stairs, exit passageways, elevator lobbies, standpipe cabinets, sprinkler sectional valve locations, and other areas deemed critical by the authority having jurisdiction, shall be provided with 99 percent floor area radio coverage

A minimum inbound signal strength of -95dBm, or other signal strength as required by authority having jurisdiction, shall be provided throughout the coverage area.

A minimum outbound signal strength of -95 dBm at the donor site, or other signal strength as required by authority having jurisdiction, shall be provided from the coverage area.

Buildings and structures that cannot support the required level of coverage shall be equipped with radiating cable system or distributed antenna system (DAS) with FCC-certified signal booster, or both, or with a system that is otherwise approved, in order to achieve the required adequate coverage.

What makes things complicated is that there are different versions of NFPA code passed each year and individual states can approve whichever version they see appropriate and don’t always enforce it. This means that code varies by location and there’s not always strict adherence. However, with the growing incidence of emergency events, enterprises are making it a top priority to make sure first responders have coverage.

Increasing requirements from local, state and federal legislation have made public safety DAS important when determining the budget for any new build or major renovation. Your need to provide wireless coverage throughout your facilities to securely aid first responders may now be required by local code. Anixter’s tailored public safety DAS solutions are designed to meet the needs of any size or location. In addition to offering a complete lineup of cutting-edge products, our wireless experts keep up to date on the latest regulations and can tailor a solution for your new build or renovation that meets the authority having jurisdiction requirements.

We also offer technical expertise and supply chain solutions to help provide a fast and efficient deployment of your specific in-building wireless network. Delivered and installed by qualified integrator partners, we can help you find an effective solution to the complex challenge of meeting public safety requirements.