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Gareth Harris, Fire Marshal for San Carlos and Redwood City, Shares Insights with the Cody|Brock Team

July 18, 2018

In the second of Cody|Brock’s summer Lunch ‘N’ learn series, 18 team members, including Project Engineers, Project Managers, Summer Interns, and Superintendents, learned about the Emergency Responder Radio Communication System (ERRCS) new code requirements for adequate signal service and other key emergency preparedness insights directly from Fire Marshal Gareth Harris.

The ERRCS is a new mandatory building code requirement to have adequate signal service within buildings based on the following criteria: 1. Required on all new construction, unless has “native coverage;” and 2. Required on all tenant improvement projects where 50% or more of the space is affected. This requirement poses several challenges: determining signal strength prior to construction; LED lighting and certain types of windows that can interfere with radio communications; and the cost of installing the system after project completion. Installers must be FCC-licensed, and an acceptance test must be ordered by a third party vendor. According to Harris, one solution to eliminate a system disruption is to install ERRCS in one building on a multi-building campus. This consistent functioning of the ERRCS system is critical because, if there is a disruption of the system in an emergency, the fire department radios will not be able to communicate with each other.

Sprinkler Systems are another crucial emergency requirement in all new commercial buildings, on all tenant improvement projects where 50% or more of the space is affected, and in situations where the use of the space changes from less hazardous to more hazardous.

Finally, Access is another crucial area where emergency teams have specific requirements. Many of today’s
buildings have programmed access for entry for security purposes, but it critical that buildings DO NOT have special code requirements to exit because employees need to be able to exit immediately in case of emergency without a special key fob, lanyard card, pass code.

For Cody|Brock team members, this Lunch ‘N’ Learn provided crucial insights into how emergency requirements affect overall construction costs and line items. “It was interesting learning the technical aspects of emergency response systems, and I was surprised by how much still needs to be improved for emergency responders to coordinate properly and efficiently,” explained Project Engineer Kaj Archibald. “Due to this presentation, we now are aware that if we build any new buildings or tenant improvements of 50% or more, this costly system may need to be installed, and we can alert clients to this potential cost during the budgeting phase.

 

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