The Legislature should pass legislation to clarify fire department radio signal requirements for new and existing high-rise buildings. Florida statute (633.202) was amended in 2016 to give local governments discretion to regulate fire radio systems for buildings within their jurisdiction. However, the vague language that is currently in statute is creating implementation inconsistencies and unintended consequences for property owners across the state.
Under current statute, local governments have the authority to determine the signal strength needed for existing and new buildings within their jurisdiction. Existing apartment buildings are not required to comply with local signal strength requirements until January 1, 2025. However, apartment buildings are required to apply for the appropriate permit for the required communications installation by December 31, 2022.
The problem is current statute does not articulate any minimum requirements for municipal radio equipment, timelines for ongoing equipment inspection, or the ability for a municipality to withhold the certificate of occupancy, which must be obtained prior to residents moving into a newly constructed apartment community.
How This Impacts the Apartment Industry:
The apartment industry recognizes the importance of fire safety in high-rise buildings. However, the vague language in the current statute is problematic and should be addressed to:
- Require local radio systems to meet a minimum national standard.
- Provide a reasonable timeline for inspections.
- Require local governments to provide developers with a radio signal coverage heat-map to help determine if a project will have a radio strength signal issue early in the construction process.
- Clarify the certificate of occupancy process as it relates to radio signal system requirements.
The Florida Apartment Association urges the Legislature to pass legislation to clarify fire department radio signal requirements for new and existing high-rise buildings.