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Frequently Asked Questions About Public Safety DAS (Distributed Antenna System)

Our emergency responders place their lives at risk for us each day. The best we can do is ensure they have reliable communication capabilities to stay coordinated during increasingly dangerous conditions. Most commercial networks fail public safety personnel when crises strike. Public Safety radio systems remain vital yet limited in capacity and coverage, especially indoors. Purpose-built in-building DAS delivers blanket coverage for digital radio signals over any facility. That’s why over 90% of new Fire Codes now mandate lifeline in-building networks – they extend life-saving connectivity into the heart of chaos, within sprawling skyscrapers, dense campuses, or tunnels. Deploying dedicated DAS for first responders ensures ongoing mission critical operations to save more lives when disasters strike.

1. What is ERCES or Public Safety Distributed Antenna System (DAS)? 

A Public Safety Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement System (ERCES) Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is a dedicated in-building network specially designed to provide reliable, uninterrupted radio coverage for first responders. It is also known as the Emergency Responder Radio Communications System (ERRCS). It ensures that first responders have consistent and robust communication capabilities, including land mobile radio signals, for firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel in critical situations. By delivering essential voice connectivity for public safety radio signals into hard-to-reach spaces, an ERCES safety-grade DAS allows first responders to execute missions that save lives during crisis situations where commercial networks routinely fail.

2. How does public safety DAS differ from commercial cellular DAS? 

Public safety DAS supports land mobile radio frequencies for police, fire and EMS. It is designed to provide comprehensive coverage with clear and consistent voice communications for first responders everywhere in the structure. It is required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Fire Code (IFC) to ensure that first responders can communicate effectively in buildings and other structures.

Commercial cellular DAS, on the other hand, provides coverage in public-use areas and also enough data capacity for smartphone users. It is an ideal solution for large buildings, stadiums, airports, and other areas where there is a high concentration of people and wireless devices. Commercial cellular DAS is not required to meet the same standards as public safety DAS, but it is still an important solution for improving wireless coverage in commercial building.

3. Why do I need a Public Safety DAS system or ERRCS? 

An ERRCS is designed to ensure reliable communication for emergency responders in buildings and large facilities. It enhances radio frequency (RF) coverage for first responders, enabling effective communication during emergencies, critical incidents, or disasters. They are required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Fire Code (IFC) to ensure that first responders can communicate effectively in buildings and other structures. ERRCS systems can also help to reduce response times and improve overall safety.

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4. What are national codes that mandate in-building communications? 

Many local and national building codes mandate Public Safety DAS coverage inside medium to large buildings. Major national codes include:

  • NFPA 1221 – Standards for installing equipment to sustain emergency responder radio coverage
  • IFC – International Fire Code mandating 95% area radio coverage in buildings
  • IBC – International Building Code also governing public safety DAS

These codes mandate complete in-building coverage with no dead zones at set signal levels, along with hardened system components with battery backup power and pathway survivability for resiliency.



5. What are the benefits of a Public Safety DAS or ERCES? 

  • Reliable communication: ERCES systems provide reliable communication for first responders during emergency situations, ensuring that they can communicate effectively in buildings and other structures.
  • Coverage in Critical Areas: Provides seamless wireless coverage in critical areas, such as stairwells, basements, and other spaces prone to poor signal penetration, ensuring that first responders can communicate effectively throughout the entire building.
  • Improved Response Time: Reduces communication delays, allowing first responders to quickly assess and respond to emergency situations, leading to more efficient and potentially life-saving interventions.
  • Compliance with regulations: ERCES systems are required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Fire Code (IFC) to ensure that first responders can communicate effectively in buildings and other structures.
  • Improved building safety: Enhances the overall safety of building occupants by facilitating communication between first responders and building management, allowing for timely evacuation instructions and updates during emergencies.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Meets regulatory requirements of local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and codes that mandate the installation of dedicated systems to support public safety communications within buildings, ensuring that the facility adheres to local and national safety standards.

6. Q: How does a Public Safety DAS system or ERCES work? 

A Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is a network of antennas that are connected to a common source and distributed throughout a building or area to improve wireless coverage. The common source can either be a single bi-directional amplifier (BDA) or a system that consists of a headend, which is the central hub of the system, and remote units, which are located throughout the building or area. The headend is connected to the remote units via a fiber optic or ethernet cable. The single BDA or the remote units then distribute the signal to the antennas, which are strategically placed throughout the building or area. An emergency responder communication enhancement system (ERCES) ensures robust in-building radio signal strength for first responders.

7.  What types of Public Safety DAS systems or ERCES are there? 

  • Passive DAS: Uses a single amplifier to utilize existing outdoor signal to boost and distribute it within a building. Cost-effective for smaller spaces with good outdoor signal.
  • Active DAS: Uses a headend connected via fiber to remote amplifiers to significantly boost signal strength, ideal for large spaces or areas with weak outside signals.
  • Hybrid DAS: Combines passive and active elements for customized solutions in complex environments. It offers a versatile solution for optimizing wireless coverage in large and complex environments by combining active and passive components, leveraging both coaxial and fiber-optic infrastructure to address specific challenges related to signal distribution and capacity requirements.

8. How long does it take to install a Public Safety DAS system or ERCES? 

Installation time ranges from a few days for smaller passive systems to several weeks for complex active installations. We work efficiently to minimize disruption and deliver swift results.

9. Is DAS expensive? 

The cost of a DAS depends on various factors, including size, type, and complexity of your location. Commdex offers budget-friendly options and tailored solutions to meet your specific needs, including DAS-as-a-Service solution that covers technology hardware, integration, and valuable support and maintenance services for one convenient monthly subscription payment so you can utilize your capital for revenue-generating activities.



10. Why choose Commdex for my Public Safety DAS system or ERCES? 

Meeting code while enabling future bandwidth requires specialized RF engineering and relationships with agencies controlling emergency frequencies. Commdex is the only DAS integrator with more than a decade of nationwide expertise not only in Emergency Responder Communications Enhancement DAS Systems (ERCES) but also in the intricate design and integration of the Public Safety Radio Systems that ERCES rebroadcasts.  Commdex ensures that all Public Safety DAS installations and ERCES systems comply with industry standards and regulations, including NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) codes and IFC (International Fire Code) requirements, to guarantee the highest level of safety and regulatory adherence. By specializing exclusively in Public Safety DAS system or ERCES, Commdex handles all aspects from initial site surveys and capacity planning to equipment recommendations, procurement, implementation and ongoing optimization. Our turnkey approach and public safety radio original equipment manufacturer (OEM)relationships simplify DAS deployment.

Our solutions are tailored to complement and enhance the overall building communication system. Commdex employs intricate design, rigorous testing, quality assurance processes, and ongoing maintenance to ensure the reliability of Public Safety DAS installations. We prioritize system performance and adherence to standards to deliver communication solutions that can be trusted in critical situations.

Initiating a consultation is easy. Contact Commdex to schedule a consultation with our experts. We’ll assess your specific needs, provide tailored recommendations, and guide you through the process of implementing a customized Public Safety DAS solution.

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