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UL Solutions ERCES Certificate Program

Helping code authorities, system contractors and facilities managers understand and quantify protection.

Firefighter talking on a radio

November 29, 2023

By Christopher Creamer, certificate program auditor

The UL Solutions emergency responder communication enhancement system (ERCES) certificate program was developed to provide frequency license holders and first responders confidence that the ERCES installed at specific properties will deliver the level of reliability and performance required by the applicable codes and standards. Additionally, the certificate program provides building owners and emergency responders peace of mind that the ERCES will be available when it’s needed most.

The UL Solutions ERCES certificate program provides a range of benefits, including:

  • Confidence that first responders have the land mobile radio (LMR) signal levels needed to communicate and coordinate rescue and emergency operations anywhere in the building.
  • An oversight program that instills code authorities and emergency responders with confidence while helping to verify the consistency of ERCES installation, operation and reliability for all ERCES installed in a building as required by adopted codes and regulations.
  • Better practice for servicing and maintaining an ERCES as a life safety system that balances the need to be continuously operational for an emergency while minimizing the impact of ongoing use of the emergency responder communication channels while not in emergency use.

 Key elements of the ERCES certificate program include:

  • Audit to determine compliance with technical requirements published in the International Fire Code (IFC) and NFPA 1 Fire Code and the referenced NFPA Installation, Testing, and Maintenance Standard (NFPA 1225).
  • Qualification of ERCES service providers through ongoing oversight of their work when a UL Solutions certificate is issued.
  • Connecting facilities managers with ERCES service providers to facilitate timely and competent communication and problem resolution.

Together, these elements provide first responders with a dynamic, interactive risk management tool that is unique in today’s market.

This article will explore each of these critical aspects of the ERCES certificate program in greater detail.

Standards-based approach to system design

The foundational principles of the ERCES certificate program include incorporating UL 2524, the Standard for In-building 2-Way Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement Systems, as a focal element of an ERCES certificate. UL 2524 provides definitions and performance requirements that form the technical basis for certification of ERCES equipment.

An ERCES Certificate designation by UL Solutions is based on the following program requirements:

  • UUKF (Principal Category Code for ERCES certification) program requirements specify the technical requirements required to qualify for designation as a specific certification type and related compliance with UL 2524.
  • Program installation requirements cover compliance with both NFPA 1225 and UL 2524 for device mounting, wire routing and protection, control panel programing, testing, service and maintenance.

The ERCES certificate program provides a framework that radio frequency (RF) designers and installers can use to specify elements and levels of first responder signal strength needed for amplification without denigrating the macro network to which the inbuilding signal enhancement solution is connected.

Installation requirements and best practices

The ERCES certificate program requires a service contract between the service provider and business owner. Proper ERCES maintenance and timely service is essential to the reliable operation of an ERCES. Under the service contract, the ERCES company is required to inspect the system in its entirety at commissioning and annually thereafter. In addition, they must be capable of making repairs to the ERCES in a time frame established by the jurisdiction.

The ERCES certificate program requires the designated ERCES service contractor to maintain ERCES records to document all inspections, maintenance and service work in accordance with NFPA 1225. Under the ERCES certificate program, UL Solutions staff conducts audits of documentation required for compliance with NFPA 1225 and assess the systems’ installation and maintenance when on-site at a protected property.

The ERCES certificate program

Under the certificate program, UL Solutions provides independent third-party certification to the ERCES service market. Important elements of the program include:

  • Company and Technician Qualification – To participate in the program, ERCES service companies are required to demonstrate their ability to deliver services in accordance with the UL Solutions program requirements in NFPA 1225.
  • UL Solutions staff will inspect ERCES installations completed by the service company, review a company’s service records, interview with company staff and test their service delivery to determine technical competency that may include NICET certification.
  • UL Solutions ERCES certificates. If the UL Solutions evaluation determines compliance, a service company is eligible to issue ERCES certificates for specific protected properties.
  • A UL Solutions certificate for ERCES service documents:
    • The name and address of a protected property
    • The name and address of a ERCES service provider responsible for compliant service delivery
    • The specific edition of code the system was accepted by the code authority.

When a UL Solutions certificate is issued for a specific property:  

  • The ERCES company is declaring its commitment to delivering service that complies with the UL Solutions requirement.
  • The protected property is enrolled in the UL Solutions ongoing follow-up compliance audit program.

Additionally, participation in this program does not require a service company to issue a certificate for every installation. The typical customer base includes many types of buildings that may have unique designs. To realize the benefits of independent third-party certification, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequency license holders, building owners and insurance carriers usually need to specifically request a UL Solutions certificate.

Compliance oversight

UL Solutions audits each company for compliance with technical and program requirements, which means that UL Solutions may conduct audits in your community. Competent UL Solutions staff execute a systematic, structured audit that:

  • Reviews inspection, testing and maintenance records, alarm signal handling records, and alarm company staff training and credentials
  • Reviews previously corrected items of noncompliance and any reports regarding compliance shared with UL Solutions
  • Inspects randomly selected installation samples from UL Solutions database of the sites where an ERCES service company has issued a certificate

Any noncompliance items identified on a certificate that are characterized as an isolated incident must be brought back into compliance in a timely manner.

Alternatively, the service company is allowed to cancel the certificate. However, that choice results in notification to any involved insurance carrier and/or code authority.

If UL Solutions identifies any systemic items of noncompliance, the service company is required to conduct a root cause analysis and implement a corrective action plan that addresses and repairs the cited system and all other certificated systems maintained by the service company susceptible to the same issue.

In the occasional case of an ERCES service company with repeat non-compliances or critical noncompliance issues, the UL Solutions program includes escalating steps that address correction or the certificate issuing privileges may be withdrawn. In the latter case, the local code authority and building owner receive notification from UL Solutions.

Training and education

UL Solutions offers an extensive library of online e-learning courses around security and life safety topics, including UL 2524. The course catalog is available here.

UL Solutions also offers complimentary private workshops that can be tailored to an organization’s specific needs or interests. We can support any jurisdiction introducing new requirements for the UL Solutions ERCES certificate program with support covering a spectrum from executive-level value proposition briefings.

All stakeholders involved with protecting premises are encouraged to reach out with questions, comments and suggestions for improvement to the ERCES certificate program. UL Solutions aspires to enable collaborative risk mitigation among ERCES service providers, risk managers and business communities. Regular, timely input from code authorities is critical to our ability to fulfill that objective.

UL Certified products can be found using our complimentary search tool UL Product iQ®. Access to the code authority features of Product iQ requires a simple one-time registration.

For additional information, please visit our ERCES service page.


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