The lives of emergency responders, and the lives of the people they serve, depend on the ability of emergency personnel to communicate using their radios. When we inspect a building we keep this foremost in mind.
We start with the building floor plans, identifying areas critical during an emergency, such as stairwells which many people will be using to exit and enter the building, fire control rooms and pump rooms, elevator rooms, areas of refuge, and elevator lobbies. We overlay a test grid upon each floor, paying special attention to call-out the previously-identified critical areas.
Next, we review any requirements unique to the local jurisdiction, then contact the radio maintenance staff and/or communications center to arrange a time for testing which minimizes the possibility of interference. Since we have preexisting relationships with so many agencies, this step is usually trouble-free.
When we arrive on-site, we test the antenna isolation, uplink/downlink amplification factors, maximum power output, and noise/spurious emissions, to minimize the possibility that the system will cause harmful interference to the public safety radio system. We also inspect the system to ensure compliance with all requirements of the California Fire Code and the local jurisdiction. If we are conducting a preliminary test, to determine whether or not a system is necessary, this step is not required.
The grid test is next. We walk through the entirety of the building, measuring radio signal strength in accordance with the procedure defined in the California Fire Code, and as defined by the local jurisdiction. If during the inspection, we identify an incorrect configuration or anomalous condition, we will work with the contractor to identify and mitigate the condition, and do so during the inspection if at all possible. The ultimate goal of this process is to ensure the building is fully compliant with the Code.
Finally, we produce a comprehensive, detailed, report of our findings, including explanations and background information. Since uplink signal is the "weak link" in the communications path, we always measure the uplink and downlink paths. If there is no practical method by which to actually measure the uplink, it is calculated, with detailed formulas and the resultant calculations presented for review.
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