FM Approvals is taking initial steps to create a new standard designed to address the LMR industry’s concern with proposed changes to the intrinsic-safety (IS) standard that are due to become effective at the end of the year, according to an FM Approvals officials.

In March, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published a proposal from FM Approvals requesting permission to create a new standard for land-mobile radios that would utilize a double-protection method that would ensure that the radios can operate in even the most hazardous environments. ANSI did not receive any comments expressing opposition to the notion, so FM Approvals plans to proceed with development of a new standard, said FM Approvals electrical director Robert Martell.

“Staff is assigned to work on the standard,” Martell said. “I’m hoping that sometime in August that I can pull a small group of interested parties and give them an overview and outline of what we’re doing.”

Such a meeting would be convened in an effort to ensure that FM Approvals staff does not create a standard that will generate significant opposition from manufacturers and the user community, Martell said.

Both manufacturers and end users have been very vocal in their opposition to changes in the FM Approvals IS standard, scheduled to become effective on Jan. 1, 2012. Currently, there is no equipment certified in the United States that meets new IS standard, and most industry experts believe that portables meeting the new standard would have to use significantly less output power — a scenario that effectively reduces the coverage of LMR systems, particularly in buildings (see the March cover story).

If the new FM Approvals standard is adopted, radios meeting the standard would not be considered intrinsically safe, but they would be deemed safe for use in the most hazardous environments under “special protection” guidelines, Martell said. FM Approvals staff members want to create a new standard that “gives the end user the same suitability and use of those radios in a hazardous environment,” he said.

In addition to the FM Approvals initiative, the LMR industry is pursuing new intrinsic-safety standards for the LMR industry through the International Society of Automation (ISA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).