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What Are the FDNY’s Minimum Requirements for ARCS?

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 on-site first responders. This system aims 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 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.

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