I agree to Idea Reinstate funding for RACES
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I disagree to Idea Reinstate funding for RACES


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Reinstate funding for RACES

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was once funded by the Federal Government through FEMA and managed at the State and down to the county level. This funding lapsed several years ago and should be reinstated. RACES is still specifically mentioned in FCC Part 97 (CFR), yet the program is poorly dispersed across the country due to the complete lack of funding from the Government. Formerly, there were standards developed against which each state had to operate its RACES program in order to qualify for the funding for the program. This would improve and expand Amateur Radio participation in Emergency Response operations while establishing a set of minimum standards for radio communicators that are willing to volunteer their time to the emergency management community.

Submitted by in Feb 2012

Comments (12)

  1. With all the funding cuts these days, FEMA needs to have a system to establish a priority for what they want funded and/or refunded most.
    in Feb 2012
  2. I agree that RACES is an important tool during disasters but we have to look at overall funding from the Federal Government and I feel there is a need to limit the amount of specific grant program types.

    I also prefer to leave the decisions to the local units of Government. If they wish to fund their RACES unit, they are currently welcome to do so though the existing processes.
    in Mar 2012
  3. FEMA's one brief attempt to get involved with RACES was an unmitigated disaster in its own right. The only tangible result was a single publication that expressed one FEMA staffer's viewpoint of what RACES ought to be and how FEMA ought to run it -- that viewpoint was totally out of touch with both the FCC regulations and the history of RACES.

    The simple fact is that there is absolutely no reason for the classic RACES to exist today because its function is completely unnecessary -- the chances of the federal government shutting down the entire amateur radio service under the War Powers Act is considerably less than zero. Since there is no reasonable likelihood of the Amateur Radio Service being shut down, there is no need to have RACES as a separate radio service which would step in to replace the Amateur Radio Service in an emergency.

    The Amateur Radio Service certainly does have a valid role in emergency communications -- preferably as a fully integrated part of the Auxiliary Communications System model, but there is no reason for either specific federal funding or the federal control that comes with such funding.

    State and local Emergency Management Agencies should be including amateur and other volunteer communications assets in their planning, just as they include other volunteer assets. Meanwhile FEMA should concentrate on developing, managing, and coordinating Federal resources to support State and local requirements, and keep its fingers out of purely state and local resources.
    in Mar 2012
  4. I whole heartedly agree with N4AOF. The Amateur Radio assistance during a disaster is very important. And we are a great resource for them with little cost to them or thier budgets as we almost all have our own equipment and most have emergency training and experience under our belts when dealing with disasters. Good post.
    in Apr 2012
  5. While it has been said there is no reason for either specific federal funding or the federal control that comes with such funding, we may need to revisit this situation. As we have seen many present a package
    but invariably lend to a financial consideration. Our purported counterparts in the Public Safety Radio Service (PSRS) while using 400,700, and 800 MHZ are spending hundreds of millions of grant money.
    The PSRS crews are still claiming the radio spectrum is a finite resource. It is the electromagnetic “real estate in the sky.” Within the HAM community we are mostly in disagreement with the PSRS crew on this. Mostly our prospective is, it is a ‘Natural-Resource’ and should be protected so it can be used for the
    intended use, need, safety, and public welfare. The radio spectrum allocated to public safety is fragmented. Of course it is fragmented. Take a long look at the FCC license applications. The PSRS crew
    never intended to share spectrum. Now the PSRS crew tells the emergency management community about the newest and best of it all the ‘GATEWAY’. How much? Certainly, we must redirect our focus to the original purposes, goals, and intents. A continuous flow of critical information is maintained as needed among multi-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary emergency responders, command posts, agencies, and the governmental officials for the duration of the emergency response operation in compliance with National Incident Management System (NIMS). In order to accomplish that, the jurisdiction has a continuity of operations plan for public safety communications including the consideration of critical components, networks, support systems, personnel, and an appropriate level of redundant communications systems in the event of an emergency. An examination of the PSRS crew
    stated requirement to this end: Communications interoperability is the ability of public safety agencies (police, fire, EMS) and service agencies (public works, transportation, hospitals, etc.) to talk within and across agencies and jurisdictions via radio and associated communications systems, exchanging voice, data and/or video with one another on demand, in real time, when needed, and when authorized. It is essential that public safety has the intraagency operability it needs, and that it builds its systems toward interoperability. HAM radio supplements, augments, and is intended to compliment the PSRS. Neither is
    an island unto itself. Each person comes with different levels of knowledge and experience in the various aspects of interoperability. These differences reflect the real world. HAM radio whether The federal government’s use of the National Communications System (NCS) Shared Resources High Frequency Radio Program (SHARES), Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), The Salvation Army-SATERN, and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service is deserving of funding and to this date is the only framework capable Of providing local, regional, national, and international interoperable communications meeting the established Criteria of; INTEROPERABILITY, RELIABILITY, SCALABILITY, AND PORTABILITY, RESILIENCY AND REDUNDANCY. In an FCC forum, held on held May 3, 2011, on earthquake communications preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate described Amateur Radio operators as "the ultimate backup, the originators of what we call social media." Fugate said that he thinks "we get so sophisticated and we have gotten so used to the reliability and resilience in our wireless and wired and our broadcast industry and all of our public safety communications, that we can never fathom that they'll fail. They do. They have. They will. I think a strong Amateur Radio community [needs to be] plugged into these plans. This is where we can all find agreement with (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate.
    in May 2012
  6. I don't believe that RACES was ever funded by the Govt. Amateur Radio Operators were responsible for their own equipment, same as today. Also -- RACES operations are LIMITED to contacts with Govt Agencies only -- Therefore, if a Ham is operating as a RACES person they can only talk to another Govt RACES station -- No contact with Red Cross, Sal Army, Hospitals, Blood Centers, etc.
    Amateur Radio operators have never been funded by the Govt. It would be nice to have someone give me back the $9000 plus dollars I have spent on equipment but I'm not holding my breath.
    in May 2012
    1. RACES is, and always has been, funded by state and local government. As with any state and local program, the funding varies greatly from place to place and also varies over time. In some areas there is zero funding for RACES. These are mostly areas where the only EM funding is the bare minimum required by law and generally only what is provided by the next higher level of government. In far more areas, local funding for RACES is somewhere between 0.01 and 0.10 FTE (full time equivalent -- i.e. the cost of one full time employee) and consists of the time that the EMA director or a staff member devotes to emergency communications issues. In areas where disasters are common, all funding for EMA activities is higher. With its budget shortfall, California has cut its EM budget to the bone and there are no longer several full time positions devoted entirely to the Auxiliary Communications System; but the system is still fully functional, guided by a mixture of volunteer and paid staff at the state and local levels. I can't think of another state that has ever had quite the high level of dedicated emergency communications funding enjoyed in the past in California, but all states and any local government with a real EMA program have at least some resources devoted to emergency communications. Unfortunately, in many areas (especially at local levels) there is a tendency towards tunnel vision where "Emergency Communications" is treated as the exclusive province of some particular organization or club.
      in May 2012
  7. Amateur Radio as an integrated part of the Auxiliary Communications System mode. How do you get that done and who will take responsibility. Most of New England have no county government. Many town EOP contain an Amateur Radio clause to satisfy format requirement and are ineffective.

    The obvious would be the EM or town officials. These are fine folk and their focus is running the town and have little any left for Ham radio.

    My focus is with Volunteer and NGO's.
    in May 2012
  8. It would appear that Community Member is focused within six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island area. These are fine folk and their focus is running the town and have little any left for Ham radio.An examination of the HAM Radio population reveals: Maine=4501, New Hampshire=5136
    Vermont=2131, Massachusetts=13119, Rhode Island =1992
    Taking New Hampshire: New Hampshire law vests many other duties with the Board of Selectmen. These include managing town roads, buildings & land, overseeing welfare, emergency managment, layout of highways, dealing with hazardous or dilapidated buildings, issuing public health regulations, and enforcing land use regulations.New Hampshire law vests many other duties with the Board of Selectmen. These include managing town roads, buildings & land, overseeing welfare, emergency managment, layout of highways, dealing with hazardous or dilapidated buildings, issuing public health regulations, and enforcing land use regulations. That body, in the absence of a county government, would be required to apply through the New Hampshire State SAA for Pass-Thru FEMA grant funding. Accordingly, if the town charter contained an Amateur Radio clause to satisfy format requirement then that body should be petitioned by the local radio club to: 1) eliminate any antenna tower ordinance, 2) to either accept or formulate an EOP consistant with State and FEMA requirements with a communications annex and SOPs
    describing the utilization and deployment of ACS, MARS,ARES, and RACES, based upon the hazard-analysis, 3)The Board of Selectmen should formally appoint a member of the radio group as the communications unit leader for the Amateur Radio activity or the COML/CUL of the local fire department.
    Obviously, this scenario is not a one shoe fits all concept since there maybe differing government structuring within the other States. However, it is interesting to note that the Board of Selectmen in New Hampshire are responsible for managing town roads, buildings & land, overseeing welfare, emergency managment, layout of highways, dealing with hazardous or dilapidated buildings, issuing public health regulations, and enforcing land use regulations. Here it is suggested that State law holds this body responsible for emergency management and land use and as a consequence of that responsibility is required to get interested and become active on the issues of emergency management and emergency interoperable communications accomodations (PSRS & ARS). You might explore grant funding for CERT-TEAMS under several grant programs to fund equipment in local fire and police stations. The State of New Hampshire has 40 2-METER HAM repeaters, 7 6-METER repeaters, 33 220 (1 1/4-METER) repeaters, 50 70-CM repeaters. Additive to this potential Amateur Resource CAPABILITY 2,820 HAMs that are General-Class licensees or above and are able to cover the local, regional, national, and international areas. Here it is made clear that Amateur Radio is supplementary, augmenting, and alternative to PSRS. Whether it is New Hampshire or another of the six States, everyone needs to step back, take a second look, and make time.
    in May 2012
  9. In reply to w0krb's belief: Your attention is directed to FEMA publication CPG 1-15 MARCH 1991, GUIDANCE FOR RADIO AMATEUR CIVIL EMERGENCY SERVICE Page 5 of 17, (1-8. FEMA's Role.FEMA's role is to provide planning guidance, technical assistance, and funding for establishing a RACES organization at the State and local government level).
    Regarding, if a Ham is operating as a RACES person they can only talk to another Govt RACES station -- No contact with Red Cross, Sal Army, Hospitals, Blood Centers, etc. Rather than just focusing on 97.407, your attention is directed to 97.401, 97.403, 97.405, 97.407(c)(4), NTIA policies for spectrum use Chapters 7 and 11.
    Regarding Amateur Radio operators have never been funded by the Govt. That is correct but government entities have been funded for RACES/Amateur operation.
    As individuals we are not holding our breath either.
    Everyone can be assured that during TYPE 1/2/3 disaster conditions that there is absolutley no problem in either MARS/RACES/SATERN/ARES/ACS stations and/or operators obtaining STAs (SPECIAL TEMPORARY AUTHORIZATIONS) or NTIA permission and waivers muchless
    utilization of intact Part 97 enabling provisions.
    in May 2012
  10. Excuse me, WD6ALM, but please note that the only way to direct someone to the so-called "CPG 1-15" is by either sending them a copy or giving them a direct link to the archive copy still buried on the FEMA website. There is NO path to the out-dated document from any top level FEMA page because no one in FEMA supports that document. The document itself was the sole work of a single FEMA staff member expressing his notion of how RACES ought to work. Unfortunately his notion was totally out of touch with reality (as well as being totally out of touch with the FCC regulations and other federal legal requirements).

    Your view of Part 97 notwithstanding, IF the situation ever arose where the RACES rules applied, the impact would be totally crippling. Fortunately RACES, as defined by 97.407 is so totally obsolete that no one cares what the last vestiges of the rule says. The only people trying to read 97.407 as anything but old fairy tale are a handful of die-hard ARES "leaders" who try to misstate 97.407 as a way to drive hams away from RACES and thus hopefully into the arms (and under the thumb) of ARES. The bottom line is that (1) (contrary to some ARES propaganda) hams do not lose their regular ham operating privileges by joining RACES, and (2) there is effectively zero chance that RACES as defined by the FCC will ever be activated because that RACES exists only when the Amateur Radio Service is shut down under the War Powers Act.

    On the other hand, don't expect the FCC to issue any rapid or blanket STAs in a "disaster" situation -- the FCC has repeatedly made it clear that the existing rules provide plenty of flexibility and that they MAY be willing to show some discretion after the fact by not always prosecuting technical violations.
    in Jun 2012
  11. The issue was: Reinstate Funding for R.A.C.E.S. . It would be nice for a bit of assistance every now and again.
    accordingly I'm in agreement with Community Member on this issue. I cannot accept there lies any validity within the ARES propoganda issue in driving individuals away from RACES. At last glance, ARES was a component of ARRL (a NGO) and ARRL holds a MOU with FEMA. This aspect apparently places ARES/ARRL in a Public-Private Partnership as reflected by A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management:Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action and the National Preparedness Goal. It is doubtful if either an individual of ARES/RACES/MARS/ACS can demonstrate one entity is better than another or the rest.
    Also ARRL encourages dual enrollment in both ARES and RACES as stated within their publications. I doubt a finding can be made of any individual being driven from one entity to another when ARRL encourages enrollment in both.While communication emergencies have been declared in the past by thr FCC and STAs have been issued, I do not
    expect STAs will ever be issued on a blabket basis either.
    However, if I'm ever denied a STA or a waiver during a TYPE-1 incident, I'll be the first to let the community know and the reason for any such denial. As far as discreton, no authority of operation means no operation.
    If it is not authorized it will not appear on ICS-205.
    "CPG 1-15" is a good publication and estabilishes an acceptable framework for supplimental/alternative communications that augment that of the Public Safety Radio Service (PSRS) and serve to complement a jurisdictions INTEROPERABILITY, RELIABILITY, SCALABILITY, AND PORTABILITY, RESILIENCY AND REDUNDANCY.Accordingly, I have no difficulity with the individual at FEMA that authored "CPG 1-15". The context of that publication has
    been restated in various other FEMA publications.
    in Jun 2012

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