Should a fire or emergency ever occur in your building, you don’t want first responders to lose communications due to a dead spot.

Unfortunately, dead spots are an all too common occurrence in buildings of all sizes, heights, and ages. However, monumental shifts are happening in building safety and compliance to address the widespread issue of dead spots. Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) systems are becoming more prevalent in multi-story buildings across the United States.

Though not yet mandated for all properties in Alabama, Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) systems are becoming more commonplace in both new and older buildings alike. With that said, companies and building owners throughout Alabama should start considering the benefits of BDAs and when to install them.

Do you own a multi-story commercial building, or are you starting a new multi-story construction project in the Birmingham, AL, area? Let Prestige Alarm be your partner in securing and enhancing your building’s crucial communication coverage and emergency response system.

If it’s time to take your security to the next level, read on to discover more about Bi-Directional Amplifiers, or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What is a BDA?

Dead spots occur when radio frequency signals cannot penetrate concrete, metal, underground structures, thick building materials, and other barriers. They can cause flat signal strength, spotty and inconsistent radio coverage, and interfere with first responders and their ability to communicate with one another.

A BDA is a two-way amplifier that transmits and receives radio frequency signals back and forth from a local wireless tower, and also works in unison with a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) within a building. As they simultaneously extend coverage range, a BDA and DAS amplify radio frequency signals and rebroadcast them throughout a building, including underground areas, stairwells, parking garages, and other problematic areas where dead spots occur.

Are BDAs Federally Mandated?

There are no federal requirements for BDA systems. Municipalities determine their own fire codes and safety guidelines for buildings within their jurisdictions, based on standards set by organizations like the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the International Fire Code (IFC), the International Code Council (ICC), and others.

As per new standards established in Section 510 of the 2018 International Fire Code by the IFC, any newly constructed building must provide ample radio coverage ‒ within the building ‒ for emergency responders. This approved radio coverage must be “based on the existing coverage levels of the public safety communication systems utilized by the jurisdiction.”

The IFC sets the minimum standard for fire prevention and in-building signal coverage laws ‒ but requiring BDA systems for buildings is ultimately up to local jurisdictions and the discretion of local fire marshals and departments.

Are BDAs Required in Alabama?

In Alabama, BDA systems are required for all new construction, remodeling, and addition projects, but not yet mandatory for all properties.

Generally speaking, most jurisdictions require newly constructed and/or multi-story buildings to have Bi-Directional Amplifiers. They are most commonly mandated in places like military bases, hospital zones, shopping complexes, sports arenas, school campuses, prisons, condominiums, resorts, and hotels.

Soon, mandated radio communication coverage will extend to all properties across Alabama, regardless of property age, size, or height. So the issue of installing BDAs is not a matter of if, but when.

What Are the Requirements for a BDA System?

It is the responsibility of building owners to cover the costs of installing and maintaining BDA systems. Certified professionals must design and install BDA systems and meet rigorous standards set in place by both the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and various other fire prevention and protection organizations.

Prestige Alarm is a local authorized dealer, installer, and certifier of Honeywell Bi-Directional Amplifiers. These industry-leading, state-of-the-art BDA systems are designed to exceed code compliance requirements, and we’ll ensure your BDA is retrofitted to your exact building specifications and radio coverage needs.

What Occurs During the Installation Process?

During the installation process, we’ll first design an architectural plan for your unique building that identifies dead spots, critical areas, and addresses the materials used to construct your building. One of our licensed electricians will then install the BDA, along with a signal-boosting antenna that can receive communications from the local radio tower. We’ll ensure your BDA system has an adequate electrical connection, back-up power, and airflow for maximum efficiency and performance.

Once the installation process is complete, we’ll test the BDA system, certify its signal coverage, and submit it to the AHJ.

Take Your Building’s Safety to the Next Level

Are you ready to install a Bi-Directional Amplifier for your multi-story building or commercial property?

Based in Birmingham, AL, Prestige Alarm designs, engineers, and installs BDAs, fire alarms, and security systems for a wide range of clients throughout Alabama. Trust us as your local safety partner to help keep your building, occupants, and first responders safe. Contact us today to schedule an assessment!