RACES

Introduction

RACES logo

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a standby radio service provided for in Part 97.407 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations governing Amateur Radio in the United States.

The concept of a standby “Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service” to replace the conventional “Amateur Radio Service” during wartime was developed in 1952 as result of input from the ARRL and the Department of the Army’s Office of Civil Defense. During World War II, the Amateur Radio Service had been silenced and a new War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) had to be created from scratch in a process that took six months.

The resulting standby RACES service was designed to provide a quicker and smoother transition in the event the President ever needed to silence the regular Amateur Radio Service again when invoking the War Powers Act of 1941. Despite four wars involving the United States since 1952, this has never happened.

When so activated, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service will consist of only those amateur radio operators who have previously registered with State and local governments to provide emergency radio communications for them in times of emergency. Other amateur radio operations might be suspended and operations under the RACES rules might be restricted to certain frequencies within the amateur radio bands.In addition to wartime communications, operations under the RACES rules can provide or supplement communications during emergencies where normal communication systems have sustained damage. It may be used in a wide variety of situations, including natural disasters, technological disasters, nuclear accidents, nuclear attack, terrorist incidents, and bomb threats.

In the past, actual RACES station licenses were also issued to civil defense organizations. To prevent abuse of station licenses by officials who were not licensed amateur radio operators, limitations on the duration of non-emergency operation and stations that might be contacted were incorporated into part 97.407. Such RACES station licenses are no longer issued, and any operations under the RACES rules would now use licensed amateur radio operators as control operators.In daily practice, most amateur radio operators enrolled with their local government for possible operations under the RACES rules are also members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, organized by the American Radio Relay League. ARES provides emergency communications in the conventional Amateur Radio Service without the need for an emergency declaration from the government. [Wikipedia.org]

RACES in Massachusetts

The RACES organization in Massachusetts is organized into four regions along the geographic boundaries used by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Each region RACES Radio officer is responsible for developing and providing methods for the cities and towns in their region to communicate with their neighbors and to state government through the MEMA Region Headquarters. The Massachusetts RACES organization holds regular monthly drills on the first Monday of every month except when the first Monday is a legal holiday. In that case, the monthly drills are conducted on the second Monday of the month. All cities and towns in the Commonwealth are invited to participate by sending their RACES radio officer or designee to check in. During these monthly drills, messages are passed for the local emergency managers on emergency management issues and training.  In the event of an emergency activation of RACES net operations, the nets will be on the same frequencies as the monthly drills.

 

MEMA Regions and Office Locations

MEMA Headquarters

MEMA Headquarters is located in an underground bunker at 400 Worcester Rd, Framingham. The bunker was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy. Due to the Cold War climate of the early 1960s, President Kennedy planned to have a secure facility built in each state to ensure continuity of state government following a nuclear attack. Being a Massachusetts native, the President had the first-in-the-nation underground blast-proof State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) constructed here. Originally, the bunker was designed to be the Emergency Operating Center of the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency and did not have many people working there on a daily basis. Subsequently, in addition to housing the SEOC, the building became the day-to-day headquarters of the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. In 1991, the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency’s name was changed to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.  [http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/about/history/]

The MEMA Hq. Radio Club maintains a station on site, WC1MA.  At the present time, the station is equipped with HF/VHF/UHF radio capability.  WC1MA is active on 6 and 2-meters on during the monthly RACES drills.

Update: as of mid-March, 2018, WC1MA is currently incapable of HF operation due to storm damage to the antennas.

MEMA Region One

In Eastern Massachusetts, the Region One Office is located at 365 East St, Tewksbury, MA 01876.  The MEMA Region One Radio Club, WC1MAA “operates a Winlink gateway WC1MAA-10 on 145.010 as a gateway to the internet for email. They can be reached via email at wc1maa@winlink.org or wc1maa@gmail.com. The station also has the capability of operating on all bands from 75 Meters through 440 MHz. During actual events or drills, they can be contacted at:

  • Telephone: 978-328-1513, MEMA Region 1 RACES line
  • Telephone: 978-328-1500 main number
  • Telephone: 508-820-2000 MEMA State EOC Framingham

Update: “The physical Winlink station is down but WC1MAA@winlink.org email is operational.”

Region One can be reached via the MEMA high-band VHF community radio system. They usually monitor the MEMA 1D or the Region 1 channel. The station’s call sign is “Region 1”. 

The Region One RACES Officer is Terry Stader, KA8SCP.  [qrz/wc1maa]

MEMA Region Two

July 23, 2018

 

MEMA’s Region II office and Regional EOC (REOC) in Bridgewater have closed and have temporarily relocated to other space while a search for a new permanent office and Regional EOC is conducted. The radio tower at the site remains operational. 

 

For the next several months, MEMA’s Region II staff is working in conference and office space that has been provided by the Plymouth Police Department, and the REOC has been moved to MEMA headquarters in Framingham. Contact information for Region II staff and the REOC remain the same — the phone numbers for the former Bridgewater office and Regional EOC are being forwarded to Headquarters.

 

The Region Two Office is located at 12 Admin Rd, Bridgewater, MA 02324. The facility houses the AREA II MEMA Radio Club, WC1MAB.

The MEMA Region 2 Amateur Radio Communications Team operates out of the Region 2 facility located in Bridgewater, MA. Our region consists of much of Southeastern Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the Islands. The region is separated into four sectors each containing around 15 communities.

“Communication tests are conducted on the first Monday of each month. During these tests, communications team members and community RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) operators meet in “Nets” that occur on preplanned frequencies. During these monthly nets, communications are tested between the MEMA State Headquarters, Region 2 headquarters, and other stations who have an interest in emergency communications.” 

The Region Two RACES Officer is Michael Leger, N1YLQ. [wc1mab.org]

RACES Nets / Frequencies

Frequency and Sector

Area Served

146.640-Waltham: Sectors 1A and 1B

Sector 1A: Boston, MBTA, MDC

Sector 1B: Arlington, Ashland, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, Newton, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Weston

146.52-Simplex: Sector 1A and 1B

Alternate frequency for Sectors 1A and 1B.

146.955-Westford: PL: 74.4: Sector 1C

Acton, Ashby, Ayer, Boxborough, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Hudson, Littleton, Lowell, Maynard, Pepperell, Shirley, Stow, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Westford

147.465-Simplex

Alternate frequency for Sector 1C.

146.715-Burlington PL: 146.2: Sector 1D

Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Everett, Lexington, Lincoln, Lynnfield, Malden, Medford, Melrose, N. Reading, Reading, Somerville, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn

146.580-Simplex

Alternate frequency for Sector 1D.

146.625-Haverhill PL: 131.8 : Sector 1E

Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, N. Andover, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, Topsfield, W. Newbury

146.550-Simplex

Alternate frequency for Sector 1E.

147.390-Beverly: Sector 1F

Beverly, Chelsea, Danvers, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Lynn, Manchester, Marblehead, Middleton, Nahant, Peabody, Revere, Rockport, Salem, Saugus, Swampscott, Wenham, Winthrop

146.880-Salem PL: 118.8 Hz

Alternate frequency for Sector 1F.

Frequency and Sector

Area Served

147.000-Dartmouth PL: 67.0 Hz: Sector 2A

Acushnet, Attleboro, Berkley, Dartmouth, Dighton, Fall River, Freetown, Mansfield, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, North Attleboro, Norton, Plainville, Raynham, Rehoboth, Rochester, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Wareham, Westport.

145.39-Norwell PL: 67.0 Hz: Sector 2B

Abington, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax. Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Scituate, West Bridgewater, Whitman

146.955- Dennis PL: 88.5: Sector: 2C

Barnstable, Barnstable County, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Chilmark, Dennis, Dukes County, Eastham, Edgartown, Falmouth, Gay Head, Gosnold, Harwich, Mashpee, Nantucket, Oaks Bluff, Orleans, Provincetown, Sandwich, Tisbury, Truro, Wellfleet, West Tisbury, Yarmouth

146.865-Sharon PL: 146.2: Sector: 2D

Avon, Bellingham, Braintree, Canton, Cohasset, Dedham, Dover, Franklin, Foxboro, Hingham, Holbrook, Hull, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Milton, Needham, Norton, Norfolk, Norwood, Quincy, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Westwood, Wellesley, Wrentham, Weymouth

 RACES and ARES Relationship

“ARES is activated before, during and after an emergency. Generally, ARES handles all emergency messages, including those between government emergency management officials. RACES, on the other hand, almost never starts before an emergency and is active only during the emergency and during the immediate aftermath if government emergency management offices need communications support. RACES is normally shut down shortly after the emergency has cleared.” [ARRL: ARES RACES FAQ]

In some states, RACES is the predominant emergency communications program, while in others ARES is dominant. Most geographical areas encourage its members to maintain a “dual citizenship”; i.e.,  membership in both ARES and RACES/ACS.

Auxiliary Communications Service

“The Auxiliary Communications Service model provides tactical, logistical and administrative support and communications for all government communications systems. This includes operations on equipment and frequencies of any authorized equipment or frequencies in support of any need by government that might be in any way connected with an eventual emergency.

This includes: cellular, computer, email, facsimile, Internet, interpersonal, microwave, radio (police, fire, amateur, other), satellite, telephone, television, video conference, in-office support of personnel, operators of equipment and systems.

ACS has its genesis in units originally designed for radio communications by amateur radio operators on FCC authorized frequencies.   This organization, known as RACES (Radio Amateurs in Civil Emergency Service) became widely known nationwide.  Dramatic changes in technology and expansion of governmental Public Safety systems indicated the need for a broader service.

ACS resources can be utilized in an agency on a day-to-day basis for familiarization for potential emergency response. This includes use of non-amateur frequencies (i.e.; government) for day-to-day government activities in any way related to emergency communications.   Participants in an ACS are expected to be more than just operators of radios in a ‘call me if you need me’ situation or an ‘it may never happen here’ scenario. They are skilled professionals who work as unpaid staff with the local emergency management agency to enhance its response and recovery in any possible emergency.   This includes preparation of plans, systems and personnel for response to any kind of situation or incident.” [Calif. ACS]

See Also

MA Amateur Radio Communications Plan (legacy)  ❖ The Massachusetts RACES Program (legacy)  ❖  ARES RACES FAQ   ❖   RACES Legislation  ❖  US RACES

Amateurs Provide Communications at Seabrook Graded Exercise, April 4, 2018