The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was founded in 1896, with a focus on sprinkler technology and electrical safety, the body has since broadened its scope to include numerous items of concern. Many, if not most, firefighters are familiar with NFPA standards such as 1901, which covers fire apparatus; 1001, which covers firefighter professional standards; and 1971, which relates to structural and proximity gear. But with more than 300 codes and standards from which to choose, it stands to reason that certain documents may not be universally familiar.

One such set of regulations is NFPA-1221: Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems. While lesser known than many standards, 1221 has a direct impact on every department and on every call. Contained within the pages are best practices on everything from computer-aided dispatch (CAD) to staffing and facility design. Also included are sections covering communication and signal wiring, operations, telephones, dispatching systems, testing, records, data security and public alerting systems.

It is important to note that NFPA-1221 does not require an emergency communication system to be installed. Rather, it provides the design, installation, and maintenance requirements and guidelines for systems (if they are required by local codes or other governing authorities or if an owner decides to voluntarily implement an emergency communication system within a building or area.)

The requirements vary by building type and occupancy, and the local jurisdictions may have additional requirements. Always check with the local code enforcement office and/or fire marshal’s office.

Certain states or jurisdictions have adopted the NFPA-72/1221 code which requires specific Public Safety standards be met to support two-way radio communications within buildings. (Additional requirements may be mandated by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction)

    • Delivered Audio Quality (DAQ) Indoor radio coverage shall be sufficient to provide a minimum delivered audio quality (DAQ) of 3.0 for analog or digital systems.
    • Signal Strength: NFPA systems require a minimum of a -95dbm (regardless of frequency) for both Uplink and Downlink
    • Coverage: 99% in Critical Areas and 90% in other “General-use” Areas
      • Critical areas are defined as:
          • Fire command center(s)
          • Fire pump room(s)
          • Exit stairs & passages
          • Elevator lobbies, standpipe cabinets
          • Sprinkler sectional valve locations
        • Mechanical rooms
    • NEMA-4 Enclosure
    • Active Equipment room and Vertical chases/conduits are 2-hour rated
    • Oscillation control
    • 12 hour battery backup
    • Antenna Isolation: 20db over system gain
    • Dedicated Alarm Panel with integration capability
    • FCC Certified Equipment Only
    • The test records must be retained for the life of the system
  • Installation personnel MUST be Certified or Licensed in this type of technology

Certificates of Occupancy may be denied without adequate performance.