In-Building Auxiliary Radio Communication Systems

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Friday, January 1, 2016
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final 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 adopts this 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 rule seeks to ensure that ARC systems achieve their intended purpose and, once installed, are continuously maintained in good working order.


The new 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 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 new rule also addresses the operation and maintenance of pre-existing in-building radio communication systems similar to ARC 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 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 amending two existing Fire Department rules in connection with the ARC system requirements of the Fire Code and Section 511-01.


The Fire Department is amending 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.


Lastly, the Fire Department is amending 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 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 amended to cover the cost of acceptance testing by the Fire Department.


In response to public comment, the Fire Department has revised Section 511-01 to clarify that the ARC system must be capable of operating on either the Fire Department simplex channels or duplex channels designated in the rule, and is not required to be capable of operating on both.  The rule has also been revised to allow the cabling for ARC systems that carries or radiates the radio frequencies (RF) to be shared with other building communication systems, provided that the owner demonstrates that such sharing will not impair the operation of the ARC system.  Additional revisions seek to clarify the terminology associated with preexisting in-building radio communication systems similar to ARC systems.


Finally, the rule has been revised to authorize owners of ARC systems, as well as impairment coordinators and persons who install or maintain ARC systems, to possess a citywide standard key. A citywide standard key is the key that enables Fire Department personnel and other authorized persons to operate elevator firefighter service and other devices and locked boxes.  The ARC system console will be accessed using a citywide standard key.


Terms used in the rule that are defined in the Fire Code or elsewhere in the Fire Department’s rules are indicated by italics.


Text to be deleted is indicated by [brackets].  Text 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,