Contra Costa RACES

About RACES

Founded in 1952 the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service is fed and cared for by FEMA. RACES works principally at the local level through local and state civil defense agencies organized by state government to provide emergency communications in the event the FCC authorizes its use.

History and Regulations

After World War II, when it became evident that the international situation was destined to be tense and the need for some civil-defense measures became apparent, successive government agencies designated to head up such a program called on amateur representatives to participate. In the discussions that followed, amateurs were interested in getting two points across: First, that Amateur Radio had a potential for and capability of playing a major role in this program; and second, that our participation should, this time as never before, be in our own name, as an Amateur Radio Service, even if and after war should break out. These principles were included into the planning by the formulation of regulations creating a new branch of the amateur service, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, RACES.

Recognition of the role of Amateur Radio as a public service means responsibility--this time in our own name. The RACES regulations are printed in full in the ARRL publication the FCC Rule Book, along with the rest of the amateur regulations, and are reprinted on the FCC RACES Rules page. Every amateur should study closely and become familiar with these rules; civil preparedness, now a major function, may become our only on-the-air function if we are plunged into war.

Who is RACES?

RACES is administered by local, county and state emergency management agencies, and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States government, is a part of the Amateur Radio Service that provides radio communications for civil-preparedness purposes only, during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies. These emergencies are not limited to war-related activities, but can include natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.

As defined in the rules, RACES is a radiocommunication service, conducted by volunteer licensed amateurs, designed to provide emergency communications to local or state civil-preparedness agencies. It is important to note that RACES operation is authorized by emergency management officials only, and this operation is strictly limited to official civil-preparedness activity in the event of an emergency-communications situation.

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