Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs)
BDA’s Ensure Critical Communications During a Building Emergency
Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA) requirements are becoming standard for newly constructed buildings in most jurisdictions in Texas and across the US. Standards are largely dependent on the location of your facility as there is no federal regulation in place. IFC and NFPA codes are the most common in smaller cities but often larger cities will write their own regulations for public safety communication standards.
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What is a Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA)?
Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs) or repeaters are two-way radio signal boosters used to ensure public safety in buildings during times of emergency. The system uses an antenna located on the roof of a building that is attached to an amplifier, that evenly spreads throughout the facility to provide equal signal coverage.
Almost every city or county in the US has mandatory codes and ordinances to guarantee a minimum level of communication reliability for first responders. Texas is no exception. Communication reliability are needed during fires, medical emergencies, and domestic threats.
BDAs are vital for maintenance, engineering, security, and operations tasks that improve productivity.
Types of BDAs
Two-Way Radio – BDAs
These are used by first responders, security personnel, and maintenance to stay in constant communication during emergency situations.
Cellular use – BDAs
These are used for cellphone communication and are NOT able to perform two-way radio functions. They have been used for years to increase cell reception in areas that receive poor connectivity like stadiums, tall buildings, basements, and lower floors.
What Businesses Need a Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) System?
Stadiums and Arenas
Retail Shopping Malls
Schools / Campuses
Codes and Requirements for Public Safety in Texas for BDAs
- Wireless Coverage– 99% coverage is required for critical building areas in most cities. In some cases, depending on the local fire department, coverage can be as low as 90%.
- Minimum Signal Strength– The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and IFC (International Fire Consultants) require a minimum signal strength of -95 dBm for adequate coverage.
- Battery Backup- Any equipment supporting the public safety radio system must be functional for 24 hours on a backup battery.
- Antenna Isolation- The NFPA dictates that antenna isolation must be 15 dB higher than the gain of the amplifier.
- Fire Ratings– Cables connections to electronic safety equipment and the room holding equipment, must meet a minimum standard of a two-hour safety rating.
Here’s the important part – NFPA has mandated that if a building or a structure cannot support the level of radio coverage that is considered mandatory as per its guidelines, they should be equipped with a public safety distributed antenna system or bi-directional signal amplification system.
In others words, this means you should have DAS (Distributed Antenna System) or FCC (Federal Communications Commission) certified signal boosters installed in your building if your building does not meet above stated requirements.
What Is Required In Texas?
While there are no overreaching federal regulations in place, local jurisdictions look to these authoritative organizations when suggesting ordinances:
- National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
- International Code Council (ICC)
- International Fire Code (IFC)
- International Building Code (IBC)
- First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)
Larger cities write their own codes, while many smaller cities draw from IFC and NFPA ordinances. This means your buildings location determines which codes compliance requirements need to be met.
With different cities requiring different code standards, it can get confusing on what you really need for your business. Let iProtection help you find EXACTLY what you need to keep your Texas business up to date with recently issued code requirements.
iProtection can handle every aspect of your BDA job.
iProtection Systems can do a complete site survey, design, and install a UL2524 listed BDA system to meet the exacting requirements of your Local Authorities. Our experience with fire alarm codes, local fire authorities, and construction requirements are critical ingredients in our commercial fire protection system designs.