Repeaters, Amateur TV Play Communication Role in California Fire Emergency

Amateur Radio repeaters and TV (ATV) have helped to keep the broader community informed on the local status of widespread fires in Southern California, radio amateurs say. Benjamin Kuo, KI6YR, who had to evacuate but now is back home, said remote Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) mesh cameras captured video from fires across Southern California earlier this month, including the early stages of the Woolsey Fire.

ATV cameras also offered views of some of the state’s less prominent fires, including the Briggs Fire in Santa Paula, and the Peak Fire in Simi Valley.

“Another big success: When most of Southern California lost their internet and phone, local repeaters were used to relay information about the fire status to ham radio operators,” Kuo told ARRL. “We also used our AREDN mesh to enable some of our members to be able to access key public safety information on their computers via our high-speed network when they had no phone or Internet.”

Kuo said a near round-the-clock net, which secured on November 14, took place in Ventura County on the Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club’s BOZO repeater and the WD6EBY Repeater Network (PVARC) countywide, with updates, important evacuation information, and more. Kuo copied information from the repeaters and his scanner onto his Twitter feed, for broader dissemination.

He credited Stu Sheldon, AG6AG, and Zak Cohen, N6PK — the two primary net operators — for working to make sure everyone had current information on the fire. “Many others were also involved providing first-hand reports — in many cases, eyes on the fire and where it was at any point,” Kuo added. He said that with landline telephones, television cable, and internet service disrupted and cell phones intermittent, repeaters were often the only source of information.

“Personally, the whole disaster cemented for me how much more resilient Amateur Radio is in these kinds of situations, and how it’s actually pretty critical to keeping informed and aware of what’s going on,” Kuo said

Elsewhere, Scott Bastian, AK6Q, of the Catalina Amateur Radio Association (CARA) in Southern California, said a ham in Malibu used his club’s repeater to call for help at the onset of the Woolsey Fire that decimated Malibu and surrounding areas.

“This ham — and I do not have her call sign — used the CARA 2-meter repeater located on Catalina Island, calling for someone to make a phone call to the fire department as there was a large fire approaching her home, and she had no power or phone service due to our power company shutting off power due to the high winds and fire danger,” Bastian told ARRL. “Two of our members — Bob Parker, KI6UPJ, in Bellfower, and Gabriel Saldana, K6GLS, in Avalon were able to pull her information out of the ‘mud,’ as she had a poor signal. They were able to notify Los Angeles County Fire and get her aid.”

Source: Repeaters, Amateur TV Play Communication Role in California Fire Emergency

Emergency Preparedness Fair Brings Experts and Services to the West Valley

On October 6th, Councilmember Blumenfield hosted an Emergency Preparedness Fair at his District Office in Reseda. Residents came to learn tips and crucial information from experts about how to prepare and protect themselves and their neighbors in the event of an emergency.

“When our city was rocked by the Northridge Earthquake 24 years ago, I was working for Congressman Howard Berman and I vividly remember the devastation and heartache our community faced,” said Blumenfield. “The need to be better prepared was indelibly seared into my consciousness.”

As a City Councilmember, Blumenfield established the Volunteer Emergency Command Center (VECC) housed right in his District Office. It has become a one stop shop for emergency training and needs. This center contains HAM radios and Volunteer Emergency Communications (EMCOMM) as well as fully loaded Volunteer Emergency Preparedness On Demand (VEPOD) containers. All of this has transformed the building into a disaster response relief point of distribution. Thanks to Nathan Wolfstein and all the members of Blumenfield’s Community Action Team (BobCAT) that have made this vision into a reality.

Source: Newsletter

ARRL, FCC Discussing Issue of Uncertified Imported VHF/UHF Transceivers

ARRL has taken a minor exception to the wording of a September 24 FCC Enforcement Advisory pertaining to the importation, marketing and sale of VHF and UHF transceivers and is in discussion with FCC personnel to resolve the matter. The Enforcement Advisory was in response to the importation into the US of certain radio products that are not FCC certified for use in any radio service, but identified as Amateur Radio equipment.

“While much of this equipment is actually usable on Amateur bands, the radios are also capable of operation on non-amateur frequencies allocated to radio services that require the use of equipment that has been FCC-certified,” ARRL said. “Such equipment is being marketed principally to the general public via mass e-marketers and not to Amateur Radio licensees.”

ARRL said the upshot is that the general public has been purchasing these radios in large quantities, and they are being used on the air by unlicensed individuals. “

“Radio amateurs have complained of increased, unlicensed use of amateur allocations by people who are clearly unlicensed and unfamiliar with Amateur radio operating protocols,” ARRL said. But while it supports the general tenor and intent of the Enforcement Advisory, ARRL said it disagrees with the FCC on one point.

“In several places, the Enforcement Advisory makes the point that ‘anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them,’” ARRL pointed out. “The Advisory broadly prohibits the ‘use’ of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use — entirely within amateur allocations — of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum.

ARRL has had extensive discussions about this issue with FCC Wireless Bureau and Enforcement Bureau staff, and those discussions are ongoing.

“It is important to protect the flexibility of the Amateur Service as essentially an experimental radio service, but it is also very important to stop the unlawful importation and marketing of illegal radios in the United States and the use of those radios by unlicensed persons,” ARRL maintained. “We will keep our members informed as our discussions with FCC on this subject continue.”

Source: ARRL, FCC Discussing Issue of Uncertified Imported VHF/UHF Transceivers


DA 18-980
September 24, 2018
Enforcement Advisory No. 2018-03


The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has observed that a growing number of conventional retailers and websites advertise and sell low-cost, two-way VHF/UHF radios that do not comply with the FCC’s rules. Such devices are used primarily for short-distance, two-way voice communications and are frequently imported into the United States. These radios must be authorized by the FCC prior to being imported, advertised, sold, or operated in the United States.



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