FCAP Community—March 2024

FCAP Community

Published March 2024

     Florida Community Association Professionals’ (FCAP) training is offered on two levels. Level one consists of courses meeting Florida’s continuing education requirements for CAMs, and level two is the Florida Advanced CAM Studies (FACS) course. For further information about the more than 38 online continuing education classes available or to pursue the Certified Florida Community Association Manager (CFCAM) designation, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/membership/education-training/.

Marcy L. Kravit

Communication Tools for First Responders—Bi-directional Antennas and Distributed Antenna Systems

By Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM, CSM
Director of Community Association Management, Hotwire Communications
FCAP Program Coordinator

     It is vital that first responders have an effective way to communicate in buildings. Radio frequency signals may be blocked, and buildings need to ensure they are equipped to provide adequate coverage for emergencies. It can be a life-or-death situation, and every second counts.

     The State of Florida is requiring that commercial buildings, apartments, and condominiums over 75 feet tall that test below minimum-required coverage levels have two-way radio communication signal boosters, called an Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement System (ERCES), designed and installed.

     Florida Statute 633.202 http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0633/Sections/0633.202.html required that all commercial and residential buildings be tested, designed, and permitted by December 31, 2022, with installation by December 31, 2024.

     Here is an overview of the requirements:

  • Existing high-rise buildings are required to have completed a radio signal strength survey.
  • Existing high-rise buildings had up until January 1, 2022, to improve the signal levels to meet AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) requirements.
  • Apartment buildings are not required to comply until January 1, 2025, but they were required to apply for the appropriate permit by December 31, 2022.

     The coverage requirements include the following:

  • 99 percent coverage in critical areas (emergency command centers, fire pump rooms, exit stairs & passageways, elevator lobbies, standpipe cabinets, and valve locations); and 90 percent coverage in general building areas.

     Bi-directional amplifiers (BDA) or dual antenna systems (DAS) use a network of antennas and amplifiers to boost radio signals and rebroadcast them through the entire building. DAS enhances coverage where signals are weak in areas blocked by concrete, windows, metal such as stairwells, mechanical rooms, and the rooftop. DAS provides a solution for uninterrupted wireless communication, enhancing communication and safety.

     Having weak cell service or Wi-Fi signals can be frustrating for residents, management, authorities, and first responders. There is a misconception that only high-rise buildings need a BDA system; however, any building that has poor connectivity needs to take action. 

     There needs to be 95 percent in-building wireless signal coverage per the IFC 510 and 90 percent of that same coverage per the NFPA 72, Chapter 24. NFPA requires 99 percent coverage in critical spots like fire pump rooms, exit stairs/passageways, and elevator lobbies.

     A BDA system can provide a two-way radio signal booster to bring your building into compliance with both local codes and Emergency Responder Radio Coverage Codes. BDA systems must be designed and installed by certified professionals.

     All systems must be FCC certified and must clearly display an FCC ID number and the required compliance labels. So how exactly does a BDA System work? They often pair with a DAS to provide a building signal booster and are made up of the following components:

  • DAS—a group of antennas placed throughout the building to boost the overall signal coverage
  • BDAs—extend two-way radio coverage in difficult-to-reach areas for public safety
  • Donor antenna—mounted on the roof to obtain a wireless signal from the outside.

What’s the Difference between BDA and DAS? 

     While they are different, it is easier to remember the similarities than the differences between BDA and DAS.

     DAS is a system of antennas that distribute a connection throughout large areas or buildings. BDA is a more extensive antenna system that incorporates both systems’ functionalities. Essentially both systems maximize communication in interchangeable ways. They work hand in hand, and you cannot replace one with the other.

     Following are recommended steps to prepare for the inspection:

  • Check with your local municipality to inquire if a permit is required.
  • Obtain a copy of the building’s blueprints and identify the weak signal areas.
  • Some BDA inspection findings may show that a property’s fire safety systems are in working order, and no action is necessary. Other results may indicate that a BDA system will verify that the building complies with Florida policies and radically improve the emergency response process. 

     The NFPA 72 requirements are as follows:

  • Minimum signal strength of -95 dBm available in 90 percent of the area of each floor (inbound).
  • Critical areas such as fire command centers, fire pump rooms, exit stairs and passageways, elevator lobbies, and other areas deemed critical by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) shall be provided with 99 percent floor area radio coverage.
  • Buildings that cannot meet the criteria shall install an amplifier (BDA) or other system to meet the requirements of the minimum required signal strength policy.
  • If the survey reveals that your property does not meet the above code requirements, obtain professional advice from a certified licensed provider to design an individualized solution that adjusts all system components according to your project’s specific materials, scale, and occupant constraints.

     “We are in the business of providing our customers and properties with reliable connectivity service, whether via our all-fiber network, our deployment of reliable mobile wireless service over our DAS solution, or enabling emergency communication via our BDA solution. Hotwire is your solution for all your connectivity needs,” states Wayne Thompson, EVP for Technology and B2B Services at Hotwire Communications.

     This process maximizes the radio frequency strength and provides your residents the peace of mind they deserve.

Betsy Barbieux

Because You Asked
By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

     I am still a bit uncertain as to having owners speak at the annual owners’ meeting. I know there will be a sign-up sheet for those wishing to speak on specific agenda items. My uncertainty is regarding the nature of their comments/questions.
     Last year it became a question-and-answer situation that consumed more time than intended. When a person’s time limit was reached, and their question had not been answered, or the answer was limited due to time, they became quite irate.
     I know that in a board meeting, the board does not need to answer their question in that meeting. Does the same apply to the owners’ meeting?
     We have one person whom I expect to be a challenge. A week or so ago, she requested tons of documents regarding board business and finances. This meeting could get very interesting.
– Pat

     Whether at a board meeting or membership meeting, the owners’ comments are just that—comments.
     You may preface that time with a reminder (continuous reminders throughout the meeting) that the comments are on agenda items only, and it is not intended to be a Q&A session. If the comment turns into a question, say you’ll meet afterwards and talk about the issue. Suggest to owners that if they have questions, they may write them down, and you’ll address them after the meeting.
     Don’t be afraid to say, “That is not a topic on the agenda.” Then use your hand, eyes, and body shift to indicate you are moving to the next person.
     Consider giving an extensive president’s report that provides information they may want—head them off at the pass. Once you are finished with your report move, immediately to the next agenda item. Don’t ask if there are any questions.
     For the owner who requested all the financial records, all she can make is a comment. If she wants explanations of anything, she’ll need to make an appointment with you or the CAM. I hope the owner who wanted all the financial records went to the CAM office to review them and then made her own copies with her own device or paid for copies to be made. There is no obligation to email them to her and NONE whatsoever to create any records for her.
     oBe sure to have owners use the suggested statutory records request form, specify the records, and limit the number of items. It can be found on the Division of Condominiums website at www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/condos-timeshares-mobile-homes/.
– Betsy

     We have an owner who wants a copy of a contract emailed so he can look at the current contract for concrete restoration specifically regarding timelines. He is claiming his unit isn’t selling because of the duration of the project. He has a past due balance for the special assessment, and instead of giving us status on payment, he is shifting the focus off himself. He will be going to collections in 10 days.
     Is he permitted to make copies of this fully executed contract that is between the contractor and the HOA? Or is he only permitted to look over it? There will be ongoing change orders, etc.
– Jennifer

     Yes, the owner is entitled to see the contract and make copies with his own portable device or pay for you to make copies.
     Whether you email it to him or make an appointment for him to come to the office is up to you.
     Be sure you have sent the statutory Notice of Late Assessment (and completed the Affidavit of Mailing) before you send him to collections. See Section 718.121(5) for the statutory requirements and form.
– Betsy

     I am the secretary of my association and have an out-of-town owner who has asked if I could vote for directors for him by proxy. Is this legal?
– Jeff

     Whether you are in a condominium, cooperative, or HOA association, proxies are not allowed at board meetings. Board members either show up in person or call in on a speaker telephone or video call.
     In a condominium and cooperative association, voting for directors must be by secret ballot and use the two-envelope system as prescribed by statute.
     In an HOA, it is possible the documents permit voting for directors using a general proxy. In that case, they could name you as the proxyholder.
– Betsy

Carlos de la Ossa

Nurturing Harmony
The Vital Role of Communication and Education Initiatives, Including Quarterly Town Halls, in Florida’s Developer-Controlled Communities

By Carlos de la Ossa

     Developer-controlled communities in the Sunshine State boast meticulously planned neighborhoods and cohesive aesthetics. Amid the tree-lined streets, community amenities, and thoughtfully designed residences, effective communication and education initiatives stand as pillars for cultivating a thriving and harmonious community. In this article, we explore the crucial importance of in-person quarterly town halls and ongoing education programs in these distinctive master-planned communities.

The Power of In-Person Quarterly Town Halls

     Quarterly town halls offer a valuable opportunity for residents and developers to come together in a face-to-face setting. These gatherings provide a platform for open dialogue, enabling residents to express concerns, ask questions, and receive updates directly from those overseeing the community’s development. The personal connection fostered in these meetings goes beyond what digital communication can achieve, building trust and a sense of community.

Transparent Communication

     Quarterly town halls facilitate open, transparent communication, ensuring that residents are well-informed about upcoming projects, changes in community guidelines, and financial matters. This transparency helps dispel misconceptions, reducing the likelihood of conflicts arising from lack of information.

Community Engagement

     In-person meetings encourage active community engagement. Residents have the opportunity to share their perspectives, suggestions, and feedback. This engagement fosters a sense of ownership as residents feel their voices are heard and valued in shaping the future of their community.

Building Relationships

     Quarterly town halls provide a platform for residents to connect not only with developers but also with each other. Building relationships within the community strengthens the social fabric, creating a more cohesive, safer, and more supportive living environment.

The Educational Imperative

     Educational initiatives within developer-controlled communities serve as a linchpin for informed and empowered residents.

Understanding Community Guidelines

     Ongoing educational programs ensure that residents are well-versed in the rules and regulations governing their community. Workshops and informational sessions can delve into the specifics of architectural guidelines, landscaping requirements, and other key aspects, reducing instances of unintentional non-compliance.

Transitioning to Homeowner Control

     As communities transition from developer to homeowner control, educational initiatives play a pivotal role. Informing residents about the intricacies of governance, financial responsibilities, and the decision-making processes empowers them to actively participate in shaping their community’s future.

Technological Literacy

     In an era where technology plays a significant role in communication, educational initiatives should also address technological literacy. Training sessions on community portals, digital communication tools, and online resources enhance residents’ ability to stay informed and engaged.

A Holistic Approach to Nurturing Harmony

     The combination of in-person quarterly town halls and ongoing education initiatives creates a holistic approach to community development in Florida’s developer-controlled communities.

Balancing Tradition and Innovation

     While quarterly town halls uphold the tradition of face-to-face interaction, educational initiatives embrace innovative methods to cater to diverse learning preferences. Webinars, online resources, and interactive workshops can complement in-person efforts, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility.

Promoting a Shared Vision

     By emphasizing the importance of communication and education, developer-controlled communities in Florida can promote a shared vision among residents. A community that values transparency, active participation, and continuous learning lays the foundation for a flourishing and resilient neighborhood.

     In conclusion, as Florida’s developer-controlled communities evolve, the emphasis on in-person quarterly town halls and education initiatives becomes paramount. By prioritizing these elements, developers and residents can collaboratively nurture a community where communication thrives, residents are well-informed, and the collective vision for the neighborhood is realized.