June 13, 2022

What Life Safety System Providers Must Know to Offer ERCES

Life safety system providers are increasingly expanding their offerings to include emergency responder communication enhancement systems (ERCES). It’s no surprise considering public safety communication is a thriving market and also a natural extension to life safety providers’ own in-building offerings of fire alarms and other required building safety elements. However, in order to conduct radio system tests, there is both required and recommended training prior to selling,  installing, and maintaining these systems.

General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL)

The GROL is a lifetime license granted by the FCC that signifies individuals can adjust, maintain or internally repair FCC-licensed radiotelephone transmitters in aviation, maritime, and international fixed public radios. The pertinent sections are Element 1, Element 3, and Element 8. The test to acquire the license consists of 100 questions in each section around operating procedures, radio wave propagation, radio practice, electrical principles, circuit components, practical circuits, signals and emissions, and antennas and feed lines. Examinees must get at least 75 questions correct in order to pass and receive the license.

The FCC GROL is important and also mandatory. The International Fire Code (IFC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) require the GROL as minimum qualifications of personnel for anyone who is going to be conducting radio system tests, system design, installation, commission, and maintain an in-building public safety communication system. The minimum qualifications for installation personnel and personnel conducting radio system tests are under the jurisdiction of the NFPA and IFC in conjunction with each state and local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Together, these agencies govern the design, installation, testing, and maintenance of ERCES. From the site survey and radio strength study through installation, testing, and ongoing maintenance, technicians who are FCC GROL licensed and certified meet the required in-building Electrictrical Rigid Steel Conduit (ERSC) code for new construction and existing buildings.

ERCES and Test Equipment Training

ERCES and test equipment training is highly advised to supplement the GROL training to learn more detail about the in-building public safety systems that life safety professionals will install for their clients. Even though it’s not nationally required yet, several states and cities, or AHJs now mandate system designers and lead installation/commission personnel to possess both GROL and OEM certification of in-building two-way communication systems issued by a nationally recognized organization. The 2016 California Fire Codes Section 510 Emergency Responder Radio Coverage (Figure A) is one example of this. Having a good grasp of the public safety codes that underpin ERCES as understanding the different RF is also useful when working alongside other stakeholders, such as engineering design companies, electrical contractors, and others involved in the process.

Figure A: The 2016 California Fire Codes Section 510 Emergency Responder Radio Coverage

ADRF can help and guide you through the GROL training and take product certifications required by the AHJ. If you’re a life safety system provider looking to obtain the GROL, ERCES, and Test Equipment training, please contact marketing@adrftech.com.