The firefighter was getting nervous. He was on the 8th floor of a high rise in Seattle and smoke was everywhere. He had somehow lost contact with his team leader! He repeatedly clicked on his wireless radio trying to pick up important commands from his captain. Only static broke through and growing more desperate, he broke down one of the office doors.
He moved quickly through the empty suite, now filling will smoke, over to the exterior of the building. Only up against the exterior window would his wireless radio finally pick up a signal from his commander! Now he could at least hear his leader calling him to move to another part of the building. The message was still hard to understand. Yelling into his radio he told his team leader that he was going to call him from his personal cell phone. Finally, using his own cell phone the firefighter could hear instructions to move to the east of the building where his team was desperately trying to locate him.
This little story is based on comments I’ve heard from the people I’ve talked with over the years as a fire alarm salesperson. But this situation actually faces many of our brave men and women who serve in our fire departments! When fighting fires it is important to communicate with the team to hear instructions and to be aware of the overall development of an emergency.
The good news is that just this year Seattle has adopted the “Emergency Responder Wireless Radio” code. This requires that every new building in the greater Seattle area must be fitted with a new wireless radio system. This will enable the firefighters to be able to use their wireless radios anywhere in the building, thereby enabling them to properly communicate with their team leader. This system is basically a large antenna that runs through the core of the building. Fitted with amplifiers, power supplies, coax, and fiber, this system must be properly calibrated with sensitive equipment so that it can reach all portions of the building. Each year it must be re-tested to make sure proper coverage is maintained.
Unfortunately, the cost of this system is not cheap. It can easily cost as much as the fire alarm system. In the near future, Pacific Fire & Security, Inc. is bringing in a major manufacturer of these systems to explain the hows and whys of this new code requirement. Stay tuned … we will be sending out invitations for how you can learn more about this important development!