BDA FAQ: Your B-Directional Amplifier Questions Answered

When it comes to setting up a bi-directional amplifier system (BDA), the details matter. You need to know if your building is equipped to protect those inside it and avoid running afoul of the fire marshall. To that end, we’ve compiled some common questions we hear regarding BDA systems.

What Are FACP Monitoring Regulations for Annunciators Per NFPA?

Each fire command center must have a dedicated annunciator panel. Or it must have another location designated by the AHJ, an organization that enforces standards, in this case, the fire marshall. Additionally, they require monitoring of the BDA and Fiber DAS master/remote status through the fire alarm systems.

Are BDAs for First Responders Required by Building Codes?           

Yes. The code does require coverage for Emergency Responders. However, it’s the AHJ that determines who the system must include. As a general rule, Fire, Police, EMS, and Fire Mutual Aid fall into this category.

How Does the System Designer or Engineer Identify Frequencies They Must Support?

The AHJ maintains a document with these specifications and other technical information these individuals need to design systems.

Who’s Responsible for Approving Respective Systems when Multiple Agencies Require Support?

In most cases, the fire marshall. They provide the technical specifications, permitting requirements, and testing procedures.

Can Anyone Install a BDA System?

Hiring a qualified contractor is advised and in most cases required given the importance of a BDA’s proper function for both physical and legal safety. So what should you look for? Typically, you need someone with FCC GROL certification and a manufacturer-specific certificate to install your BDA. The specific certification name may vary by jurisdiction.  In many cases a contractor will be required to permit the installation and thus require adequate design and permitting capabilities.

How Do You Know if Existing Coverage is Adequate?

An FCC GROL certified person must perform a radio frequency survey. They will measure the Uplink/Downlink signal strength in dBm (decibels-milliwatts) using a specialized measuring device. The technician then submits these to the owner or owner’s representative as well as the AHJ when required.

What’s the Difference Between Class A Channelized BDA Vs. Class B Selective BDA?

Each of these amplifies a specific range of frequencies or bandwidths. Class A amplifies less than 75 kHz, while Class B amplifies greater than 75 kHz.

A BDA is called a Channelized Signal Booster if it can amplify multiple frequencies at once. Doing so can reduce the effects of the near-far phenomenon in which a nearby stronger signal can make a further signal harder to hear.

With that said, Class B is more common as they can cover all public safety channels between 800-700MHZ.

Want to learn more about BDA standards and how your existing system stacks up? Contact us today at (800) 741-6507.