Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Performance Analysis of RF-Based Electronic Safety Equipment in a Subway Station and the Empire State Building



William F. Young, Catherine A. Remley, Galen H. Koepke, Dennis G. Camell, Jacob L. Healy


We analyze data from NIST field tests in which radio-propagation channel path loss values were measured at approximately the same physical locations where the performance of various RF-based firefighter distress beacons were tested. These side-by-side tests were made in two key representative emergency responder environments, a New York subway station and the Empire State Building. These environments contain propagation features that may impair radio communications, including stairwells, tunnels, and rooms deep within buildings, among others. The goal of this work is to determine appropriate performance metrics for use in the development of laboratory-based test methods for RF-based electronic safety equipment. The analysis supports the classification of structures into categories of attenuation values that can be used in laboratory-based test methods to verify the performance of the RF-based alarm systems. The environments, tests, and measured data are discussed in detail. The RF propagation-channel data also provide insight into the expected attenuation in high-rise buildings and below-ground structures.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1792
Report Number


attenuation, emergency responders, firefighter communications, public-safety radio communications, radio propagation-channel measurements, wireless communications


Young, W. , Remley, C. , Koepke, G. , Camell, D. and Healy, J. (2013), Performance Analysis of RF-Based Electronic Safety Equipment in a Subway Station and the Empire State Building, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created March 28, 2013, Updated January 27, 2020