The City of Kamloops is considering a new bylaw to require radio repeaters in high-rise buildings as first responders face communication issues, including an inability to converse inside buildings and with people inside. outside.
A report to the city’s Community Services Committee on Thursday afternoon (August 11) says the proposed bylaw could require radio repeaters in high-rise buildings. It would apply to new construction or renovations of existing high-rise buildings.
According to the report, radio communication inside buildings and with parties outside (incident command, dispatch, etc.) is “hampered” and, at times, “rendered completely ineffective”.
“This is due to the inability of radio waves to penetrate in and out of the structures themselves, as well as between specific levels, depending on the materials used for construction,” the report states. “Communications are further complicated by the limitations of current radio infrastructure, Kamloops’ challenging topography, and increased signal loss as these taller structures block signal paths.”
The new patient care tower at the Royal Inland Hospital is apparently among the buildings causing problems for first responders in Kamloops.
“In order for responders inside the building to communicate with Incident Command, a responder must stand outside to reach the KFR repeater and use a radio to communicate with Incident Command and use another radio on an independent channel to communicate with interior teams,” the report states. “If emergent transmission or general operational communications on tactics are required, communications cannot be achieved between floors or back to dispatch.”
Kamloops Fire Rescue will address the committee on Thursday for direction on developing a bylaw, which would then be brought to the board for discussion before implementation. KFR declined to speak to KTW prior to this presentation.
Chairman of the committee, Con. Dale Bass said the discussion is about the challenge facing the construction industry, in terms of constructing environmentally friendly buildings and fighting fires. She called “ridiculous” the need for first responders to stand outside to communicate.
“We need them to be able to communicate,” she said.
Bass noted that firefighting in tall buildings is more difficult and that communication issues further compound the problem.
Tom Calne, the new president of the Central Interior chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, said KTW homebuilders wanted a proper survey done on existing residential buildings, as he had no heard of problems before the RIH tower was built.
Calne said he hadn’t heard of any apartment buildings causing trouble and suggested the city could upgrade its communications system. Ultimately, he said, health and safety comes first, noting that homebuilders would cooperate with any new regulations that come into effect. However, he added, this would result in additional construction costs, which would ultimately be passed on to landlords and affect housing affordability in an already difficult market.
The report notes the challenges of modern construction to increase energy efficiency and indicates that some infrastructure costs between $4,000 and $25,000.
Calne cited the BC Step Code, EV rough-in requirements and development costs as other challenges to keeping the cost of a home low.
“Any time there’s a new tax or regulation, it’s definitely going to have an impact on housing — and the cost of it,” Calne said.