Member Feature | ERRCS Design and Installation In-building With Wireless Applications Consulting

Posted on August 12, 2016.


The ability for first responsders and the public to communicate in-building is critical, especially on college campuses.  This week we are excited to highlight one of our small business members – Wireless Applications Consulting (WAC).  The team at WAC provides nearly 20 years of experience in public safety radio communications to venues all along the West Coast (Broadwave Wireless, Inc. is the name of its southern west-coast branch). They specialize in providing building owners/managers, general contractors and electrical contractors with 100% code compliant Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRCS) and/or a Cellular signal enhancement DAS. For WAC, “joining SBC shows to our clients that we are serious about public safety and our commitment to improving the process,” said President of WAC, Drew Piriak. “Clients look to WAC as a subject matter expert so we need to truly understand the requirements and processes for each AHJ region we work in.”

More jurisdictions nationwide are enforcing public safety communication system requirements from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Fire Code (IFC).  Bringing Emergency Responder Radio Coverage Systems (ERRCS) inside buildings requires in-depth subject matter knowledge to ensure code compliance and high quality installation, regardless of if the system is being retrofitted or optimized after a building has already been built, or if it is being rolled into the design and implementation of a brand new building.

As said by Safer Buildings Coalition Executive Director Chief Alan Perdue (Ret.), “Building owners can’t afford NOT to have in-building wireless coverage. People must be able to communicate wherever they are. This especially includes college campuses.”

As these communication systems serve a vital, basic life safety need for building occupants and first responders, just like fire alarms and sprinkler systems, key stakeholders are working together to tackle the challenges in successfully implementing these important public safety radio communications systems.

The installation of a functioning, verified and code-ready fiber distributed antenna system (DAS) can at times seem misleadingly straight-forward.  Pre-defined parts lists cannot substitute for specialized knowledge and experience in planning and installation of ERRCS components, testing to verify component integrity, and commissioning and optimizing the system – all vital to guarantee that a finished ERRCS meets or exceeds State Fire Codes.  That’s why important to bring aboard experts in ERRCS design and installation for these type of projects.

About Wireless Applications Consulting

Wireless Applications Consulting (WAC), a DAS In-Building systems integrator, public safety radio communications expert, and member of the Safer Buildings Coalition, has almost 20 years of experience in the implementation and delivery of tailored designs and fully code compliant ERRCS, and has been involved in many back and front-end installations.

Portland Community College

A fiber DAS system was designed and implemented for bringing code-compliant public safety radio communications to several existing and new buildings at Portland Community College.

Portland Community College - WAC ERRCS Design and InstallationDue to the timing of equipment purchases, along with issues with the parts specified in the original bid, the installation did not meet NFPA, IFC, or local Oregon 510 fire code requirements.  

WAC was called in to provide comprehensive consulting, commissioning and NFPA, IFC and OR 510 code compliant testing services, and to assist the electrical contractor in successfully completing the installation.  An experienced team, which included a certified General Radio Operator Licensed (GROL) commissioning technician, addressed the needs of the project.

“They had never done a DAS project before,” said Richard Carey, project manager, “and had no ability to do sweep testing of the cable to verify its integrity, and that it was installed correctly to the manufacturer’s guidelines,” among other critical aspects of ERRCS installation and testing.  Together, the WAC team completed the project by liaising with the system manufacturer, electrical contractor and general contractor; identifying components which failed their tests; helping to update and replace out-of-warranty components; and performing final commissioning and optimization of the system.  Based on their recommendations, the Portland Community College DAS was brought into compliance with all local, national, and international fire codes.

The University of Portland

University of Portland - WAC ERRCS Design and InstallationAt the University of Portland, WAC designed and implemented an ERRCS to cover a newly constructed building on campus, where the system would have to service not only that building’s emergency responder radio communication needs, but those of future campus buildings, as well as offer the flexibility to add cellular carriers for public use at a later time.  

To determine the best system and implementation plan, “the first thing we do is talk to the customer; we want to find out what they’re looking for,” said Jonathan Carlson, WAC design manager.  Based on the specific needs of the project, WAC created the appropriate ERRCS design, mapped the site and selected the right technology to ensure functional and effective operation that satisfied jurisdictional requirements.

The University of Portland’s Communication and Technology Coordinator Michael McNerney wrote in his public performance review on this project, “…the whole team did a phenomenal job getting our DAS installed and operational. They were easy to work with, detail oriented, and consummate professionals!”

WAC’s Role In Making Buildings Safer With ERRCS Design And Installation

Wireless Applications Consulting provides skillful solutions to bring ERRCS up to par with the requirements of NFPA, IFC, and the City of Portland based on competent knowledge of DAS engineering, design and fire code requirements.

As national fire codes continue to change and bring ERRCS further into the spotlight, DAS experts like WAC play a key role in making them a physical reality.  “Public safety first responder systems now are like sprinklers back then; implementation starts slowly,” said Drew Piriak, President of WAC.  “Once the code is fully implemented, it steamrolls, and now it’s another requirement in the building.  As national and state codes change, these systems adapt and evolve with it, and everyone changes with the flow.”

Whether it is a public safety only system installation, a mixed-use building with public safety radio capabilities as well as cell phone carrier coverage, or a historic building with unique ERRCS planning requirements, getting experts who are invested in improving building safety involved early ensures an efficient and streamlined experience.

When asked why Wireless Applications Consulting joined the Safer Buildings Coalition, Piriak answered, “For multiple reasons. First we wanted to be informed as to changes happening at a national level in the public safety arena. Also we wish to have an avenue to contribute/share real world experiences that can provide insight for positive change.”

The Safer Buildings Coalition’s primary mission is to ensure that state-of-the-art voice and data communications systems are available for first responders to communicate inside buildings during emergency incidents.  Click below to learn more about claiming your seat at the table.  

Learn more about joining the SBC by clicking here.  Also be sure follow us on our Facebook page, Twitter (@SaferBuildings), and connect with us on LinkedIn.