Blog Posts: ARCS

Welcome to Allstate Sprinkler Corp. You can check out our blog here, where you can find recent posts, news articles, and helpful guides and tips on fire safety systems. These posts mention ARC Systems.

Remembering 9/11: Why an ARC System Is an Essential Part of a High-Rise Building

As the 20th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy approaches, it is important to reflect on the events that occurred on that horrific day. Although the attacks could not have been foreseen, improving communication among firefighters could have prevented many casualties. The firefighters were unable to communicate effectively with the Fire Command Center  inside the Twin Towers resulting in failed evacuation efforts. As per the 2014 building code, New York City now requires the installation, testing, maintenance and certification of an Auxiliary Radio Communication System for all high-rise buildings — providing a reliable communication method for first responders to use during an emergency.

What Is an ARC System?

An ARC System is a two-way emergency radio network that is designed for first responders, especially firefighters, to use during a crisis. Because an ARCS uses exclusive FDNY radio frequencies, it prevents interference and allows for seamless communication among firefighters. They can communicate, even when separated by thick walls of concrete or steel, and no longer need to constantly switch radio channels in order to obtain a reliable signal.

What Are the FDNY ARCS Regulations?

According to the City of New York, high-rise buildings erected after December 31, 2014, require the installation of an ARCS. For commercial buildings, “high-rise” is defined as a building with a floor that is 75 feet higher than the lowest possible level of entry for the FDNY’s vehicles. A residential high-rise building is defined as taller than 100 feet.

How Can Allstate Sprinkler Help?

Understanding ARCS regulations can be confusing, but Allstate Sprinkler is here to guide you through the process. The first step requires the engineering and filing of a fully designed ARCS system with the New York City Fire Department. During this filing period, we’ll provide you with regular updates that we receive from the FDNY, resolve any objections from the FDNY and answer any questions that you may have. Once the FDNY has granted approval, we can then begin the installation process.

Upon completion of the installation, the final step is the inspection, testing and commissioning of the system conducted alongside the FDNY. This process can be lengthy and complex, but we work with you every step of the way to ensure that your building receives the final Letter of Approval.

With over five decades of experience and a long-standing reputation with the FDNY, Allstate Sprinkler is your most trusted choice. Our goal is to help you install a functioning ARC system and understand the responsibilities that come with establishing an FDNY radio system. Call us today for a free estimate.

As of 2014, all newly constructed or newly remodeled high-rise buildings in New York City must be equipped with an FDNY approved Auxiliary Radio Communication System. Per the law, this regulation applies to commercial buildings that are over 75-feet in height and residential buildings that are over 100-feet tall. In addition to installing an ARCS, building owners must invest in routine inspections and maintenance, as without both, the system may not function as designed in an actual emergency.

The Purpose of ARCS

An Auxiliary Radio Communication System is a wireless two-way communication system that receives and transmits dedicated frequencies between first responders on site. The purpose of this system is to ensure that first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other professionals, can easily communicate with one another without interference from outside frequencies. Uninterrupted and seamless communication is crucial for quick and effective fire fighting and preventing injuries and fatalities. Because of the significant role ARC systems play in reducing the amount of property damage and the number of casualties in a fire, the FDNY has strict requirements for them.

Minimum Requirements for ARC Systems

ARCS are highly sophisticated and intricate communication systems that will assist fire responders in critical situations.  Building owners must follow the minimum requirements set forth by the FDNY in order to obtain a Letter of Approval upon commissioning of such systems.

Most importantly, the system must cover the entire building’s square footage. In general building areas, the system must offer a minimum of 95% coverage at -93 dBm (unit used to measure signal strength in relation to one milliwatt). In critical building areas, coverage must be at 100%. Critical areas include, among others, exit passageways, exit stairs, fire/emergency command center, standpipe towers, fire pump rooms and where sprinkler sectional valves are located.

ARCS wiring must be protected by at least two hours of fire-rated protection and be installed by a master electrician only. An FDNY Licensed Professional Engineer must design, review and approve formal plans for the ARC system’s installation and provide his or her license number upon signing and stamping the plans.

All ARC systems must be able to self-monitor, self-test and report on the status of six key alarms. Those alarms are as follows:

  • Power status (DC/AC/Battery level)
  • System status (active vs. non-active)
  • Antenna status (healthy vs. non-healthy)
  • Transmitting status
  • Tamper switch status (whether the ARCS cabinet is open or closed)
  • Room water leak status

All ARC systems must meet these minimum requirements and any other requirements the FDNY deems necessary – at all times. For this reason, another minimum requirement is daily testing by onsite professionals and annual inspections by a Certified ARCS Company. Allstate Sprinkler is intimately familiar with the FDNY radio system standards and inspecting and testing best practices. To remain in compliance with NYC laws and regulations, and to protect building occupants and first responders, choose us as your ARCS partner for all your design, installation, inspection, testing, commissioning and repair needs. Request a quote online today.