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 three 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 2/3/24, WC1MA is now capable of HF operation as the antenna damage was repaired at the State EOC. HF will be tested again monthly from the State EOC starting with the February 2024 RACES Net.

MEMA Region One

In Eastern Massachusetts, the Region One Office is located at 365 East St, Tewksbury, MA 01876. They can be reached via email at wc1maa@winlink.org or wc1maa@gmail.com. The WC1MAA station 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

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

MEMA Region Two

Update as of 2/5/2023:

The MEMA Region II Office and EOC has reopened at its new location in the Town of Franklin. The move was completed in September, 2020. As of 2/5/23, there is currently no permanent Amateur Radio or MEMA related radio communications installed at the office. This will be changed at a future date that is TBD.

The Region Two Office is located at 20 Forge Parkway Franklin, MA 02324. Once the logistics of both MEMA and Amateur Radio equipment can be determined and completed, the facility will house the Region II MEMA Radio Club, WC1MAB

The MEMA Region 2 Amateur Radio Communications Team currently operates remotely from home stations and local EOCs, but will eventually operate out of their Region 2 facility located in Franklin, 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 (once permanent equipment configuration is determined), 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


Alternate frequency for Sector 1C.

147.120-Billerica 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

146.715-North Reading PL: 146.2

Alternate frequency for Sector 1D.

146.625-West Newbury PL: 131.8 : Sector 1E

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


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

Monthly First Monday of the Month RACES Net Schedule (2nd Monday if a State Holiday/Close to the July 4th Holiday)

The following is the monthly RACES Net Schedule for RACES Nets in the Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section – all RACES & ARES stations are welcome:

MEMA RACES/ARES Statewide HF Net -1845/6:45 PM: Start at 3930 KHz moving up to 3955 KHz – HF net

MEMA RACES/ARES Statewide HF 80 meters NBEMS Net:
7:00 PM ET
Dial Frequency: 3584.5 MHx
Center Frequency: 1500 Hz
Initial mode: THOR22
We will have checkins, followed by an ICS-213 format message using FLMSG.

MEMA RACES/ARES Statewide Winlink Net:
Bryan Marcotte KF1D is typically a net control.
Send a winlink checkin form to KF1D, copy AB1PH, between 0600 and 2400 on the Monday of the net.

MEMA RACES/ARES Regional Net: 1900/7:00 PM: 53.31 (- 1 MHz, PL 71.9) – Wachusett Repeater

MEMA RACES/ARES Region 1 Nets:
1915/7:15 PM: 53.69: (simplex, no PL) Region 1 Tewksbury to Sectors Net.
1930/7:30 PM: Sector Nets (See table above for Region 1 Net Information)

MEMA RACES/ARES Region 2 Nets:
730 PM: Sector 2A & Sector 2D Nets (See table above for frequency information)
800 PM: Sector 2B Nets (See table above for frequency information)
-Sector 2C Cape Cod and Islands participates in the monthly Winlink Net in lieu of a voice net on the Sector 2C frequency due to local club meeting conflicts

Eastern Massachusetts Monthly ARES Net – 830 PM – for frequencies that will be linked into the ARES Net on the MMRA Network, please see the following link from the MMRA web site detailing the repeaters that will be linked in through Hub 1:
https://mmra.org/repeaters/repeater_linking.html (Click the ARES box to see the repeaters and other systems linked)

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 (deprecated)  ❖  ARES RACES FAQ   ❖   RACES Legislation  ❖  US RACES

Local Communities Looking for RACES Officers

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