In July, the FCC released a Report and Order (R&O) that amended Part 97 — more specifically Section 97.113 — stating that government entities sponsoring disaster and emergency drills will no longer need to apply for a waiver to hold these drills. Additionally, employees who wish to participate in non-government-sponsored drills and exercises may do so under certain conditions. Part 97 is the portion of the Commission’s rules that govern the Amateur Radio Service. In the August 4th edition of the Federal Register, the FCC issued a summary of the R&O entitled Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Regarding Amateur Radio Service Communications During Government Disaster Drills –noting that the effective date of these new rules will be September 3, 2010.

From the ARRL Website

In a Report and Order (R&O) released Wednesday, July 14, the FCC amended Part 97.113 to allow amateurs to participate without an FCC waiver in government-sponsored disaster preparedness drills on behalf of their employers participating in the exercise. The FCC also has amended the rules to allow employees to participate in non-government drills and exercises up to one hour per week and up to two 72-hour periods during the year.

“Experience has shown that amateur operations can and have played an essential role in protecting the safety of life and property during emergency situations and disaster situations,” the FCC noted in the R&O. “Moreover, the current Amateur Radio Service rules, which permit participation in such drills and tests by volunteers (ie, non-employees of participating entities), reflect the critical role Amateur Radio serves in such situations. However, as evidenced by recent waiver requests, state and local government public safety agencies, hospitals and other entities concerned with the health and safety of citizens appear to be limited in their ability to conduct disaster and emergency preparedness drills, because of the employee status of Amateur Radio licensees involved in the training exercises. We therefore amend our rules to permit amateur radio operators to participate in government-sponsored emergency and disaster preparedness drills and tests, regardless of whether the operators are employees of the entities participating in the drill or test. We find that extending authority to operate amateur stations during such drills will enhance emergency preparedness and response and thus serve the public interest.”

In order to allow participation in non-governmental disaster drills — such as those sponsored by ARES® or private hospitals — the FCC will now allow amateurs employed by an agency participating in such a drill to participate up to one hour per week. In addition, they may also participate in up to two exercises in any calendar year, each for a time period not to exceed 72 hours. “This time limitation, which is consistent with the timeframes contained in the waiver requests filed with the Commission, should serve to further ensure the use of Amateur Radio for bona fide emergency testing,” the R&O stated. “We emphasize that the purpose for any drills we authorize herein must be related to emergency and disaster preparedness. By limiting the purpose in this manner, we further ensure that such drills will be appropriately limited.”

In amending the Amateur Radio rules, the FCC reiterated that it does not intend to disturb the core principle of the Amateur Radio Service “as a voluntary, non-commercial communication service carried out by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. Rather, we believe that the public interest will be served by establishing a narrow exception to the prohibition on transmitting amateur communications in which the station control operator has a pecuniary interest or employment relationship, and that such an exception is consistent with the intent of the Amateur Radio Service rules.”

The effective date of the R&O is to be determined and will be at some time after its publication in the Federal Register. A more detailed story will be forthcoming from the ARRL.

From the ARRL Website

On the first Wednesday evening of each month, we hold a Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Check at multiple locations in Beavercreek and in Xenia.

Operators meet at these EOC’s at 7:15 and get prepared for a “Net” to begin at 7:30. During the “Net” we have all EOC’s and any other stations wishing to participate to check-in, after which we move to different repeaters to check both their functionality and the capability of the radios to reach them.

EVERYONE is invited to participate, either from your location or you are welcome to come out to one of the EOC’s. Additionally, we would welcome check-ins from ANY other EOC’s in the Miami Valley Area that would like to participate.

To assist you in following the “Net” I have copied below the list of area repeaters used for the Net.

XWARN 147.165 Pl 100
KETTERING 145.110 PL 67
XWARN 443.100
DARA 146.940  PL 123
FAIRBORN 145.410 PL 118.8
BELLBROOK 147.045
GCARES 146.910
HUBER HEIGHTS 442.925 PL 123
SPRINGFIELD 146.730 PL 77
WILMINGTON NWS 444.575
SKYWARN 146.640
CINCY SKYWARN 146.880 PL 123″

These Monthly Nets are very important as they give us an opportunity to check out radios and repeaters, familiarize people with the operations of the radios and where they are located in the EOC’s, familiarize operators with EOC personnel (police, fire, and administrative), and is great practice for Net Operations. PLEASE consider either joining our NET Control Crew or at least participating from your location.

Thanks!

Mike Crawford KC8GLE