In-Building Auxiliary Radio Communication Systems
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:1)
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule
As of December 31, 2014, the New York City Building Code requires, in Sections 403.4.4 and 907.2.13.2, that an in-building auxiliary radio communication (ARC) system be installed and maintained in all newly‑constructed high-rise buildings. An ARC system is a wireless two-way building communication system for Fire Department use only that receives and transmits Fire Department portable radio frequencies within the building. An ARC system typically consists of a transceiver (base station) connected to a building-wide antenna system, with a radio console in the building lobby. Section 917.1.2 of the New York City Building Code and Section FC 511 of the New York City Fire Code together require that ARC systems be installed, acceptance tested, operated and maintained in accordance with the Fire Code and the rules of the Fire Department.
The Fire Department proposes to adopt a new rule to establish requirements for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of ARC systems, including the testing procedures necessary to confirm that the ARC system is providing adequate radio coverage in the building in all areas accessible for firefighting operations. The proposed rule seeks to ensure that ARC systems achieve their intended purpose and, once installed, are continuously maintained in good working order.
The proposed rule, 3 RCNY § 511-01, sets forth standards, requirements and procedures for installation, acceptance testing, daily inspection, annual certification and five-year recertification of ARC systems. It requires that the testing of ARC systems be supervised by a person holding a Fire Department license, known as a Certificate of Fitness, who knows the New York City Building Code, Fire Code and Fire Department rule standards that apply to ARC systems. The proposed rule reflects the Fire Code requirement that this person hold a General Radiotelephone Operator License issued by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The proposed rule also addresses the operation and maintenance of in-building repeater systems that were approved for installation by the Department of Buildings and/or the Fire Department prior to December 31, 2014. As set forth in Section 511‑01(j) of the proposed rule, a commissioning test must be conducted and the results submitted to the Fire Department; a Fire Department permit must be obtained; operation of the system for maintenance and testing purposes must be under the supervision of a certificate of fitness holder; and the system must be operated and maintained in compliance with the requirements for ARC systems set forth in the rule.
The Fire Department is additionally proposing to amend two existing Fire Department rules in connection with the ARC system requirements of the Fire Code and proposed Section 511-01.
The Fire Department proposes to amend Fire Department rule 3 RCNY § 115-01 to establish a company certificate for businesses that test ARC systems. These company certificates seek to ensure that the businesses that test ARC systems, including operating the systems to perform the required testing, are subject to the same standards as the individual Fire Department Certificate of Fitness holders whom they employ to perform the testing. The Fire Department regulates blasting and fireworks contractors, private fire alarm central stations, fumigation companies, portable fire extinguisher sales and servicing companies, and smoke detector maintenance companies in a similar fashion by requiring both the individuals who perform the work and the companies that employ them to be certified.
The Fire Department also proposes to amend Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §4601-01 to adopt fees for the ARC system testing company certificate and for ARC system acceptance testing by Fire Department personnel. The proposed fee for the ARC system testing company certificate will cover the Fire Department’s costs in issuing the certificate and programming and periodically inspecting the portable radios that each company will use to operate on Fire Department frequencies to test the ARC systems. The fee for the ARC system permit is proposed to be amended to cover the cost of acceptance testing by the Fire Department.
Terms used in the proposed rule that are defined in the Fire Code or elsewhere in the Fire Department’s rules are indicated by italics.
Text proposed to be deleted is indicated by [brackets]. Text proposed to be added is underlined.
“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in Fire Department rules, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
Guidance with respect to the interpretation of the Fire Code and Fire Department rules may be obtained using the Public Inquiry Form on the Fire Department’s website, www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/firecode/index.shtml#p6.