The bi-directional antenna system, or BDA, is a large antenna system that allows first responders such as EMTs, firefighters, and police to communicate on their Emergency Responder Radio System (ERRS) without fail in a building that might have poor reception otherwise. ERCES or Emergency Responder Communications Enhancement System is a term used frequently with BDA that accurately describes the function and overall purpose of the system.
BDA systems are all about safety, the safety of the first responders, and those who they are helping.
There is a new international fire code as of 2020 that mandates that all buildings must have the capability for first responders to communicate in their building and back to their departments.
Many older buildings with lots of steel and thick concrete walls often have bad reception, which would leave the first responder unable to communicate with their internal team and/or those back at their department.
By installing a BDA system, we can help amplify the signal for these first responders so that they can successfully remain in contact with their team.
With many new constructions, the contractors have to follow LEED standards to try to make the building more energy-efficient. They install windows that help insulate the building, but at the same time, they are blocking radio transmission.
In order to fix this, we put a donor antenna on top of that new building and install wireless access points throughout each floor with DAS or distributed antenna systems.
In order to be a BDA installer, you have to have an FCC license. Technology Install Partners is certified to install BDA all over the country, and we also have many partners that are certified as well.
Though we are a Cleveland, Ohio based BDA installer, we have experience working with many different contractors, developers, architects, and engineers, helping them install these BDA systems all over the US.
There is a common misconception that only high-rise buildings are required to have BDA systems; however, any building that cannot get a first responder signal into their building. Even one-story buildings sometimes need BDA systems installed.
If you are unsure whether or not your building meets the first responder signal requirements, Technology Install Partners can come to your location and test for the signals. We walk the building with a device that allows us to detect whether or not the local emergency responders can pick up the signal or not.
If we cannot detect appropriate signals, we can install the DAS systems which works with the BDA system, especially like a WI-FI hotspot.
If you are involved with the construction of a new building, and you aren't sure if your project will need to incorporate a BDA system, we can help you understand which component will likely affect whether or not you'll need to install.
Ultimately, it's the decision of your jurisdiction, so it may be your local fire inspector or a state inspector.
However, many construction companies will have BDA systems installed during construction as it helps them save time and cost on installation. Even if they don't necessarily need it, they still save those resources added it as a precaution so they can still open their building on schedule.
If you have any questions about BDA systems, you're not alone. Each state and each jurisdiction are operating under slightly different regulations, so if you need to learn more contact us today with any questions or concerns, we are always happy to help you understand. We also do lunch and learns for architects, engineers, and fire inspectors to help them know what to expect, what to look for, and much more.