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Island County > Emergency Management > Races Explanation


RACES Explained

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for the regulation of RACES operations. The Amateur Radio Regulations, Part 97, Subpart E, were created by the FCC to describe RACES operations in detail.

Each RACES group is administrated by a state, county, or city emergency services or emergency management organization which is responsible for disaster services. These organizations may sometimes be within another agency such as police or fire. In some areas, RACES may be part of an agency's Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS).

RACES is further sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through FEMA Civil Preparedness Guidance, CPG 1-15, March 1991, which provides guidance on developing a RACES group and planning for their use.

RACES in Washington

Within the State of Washington, RACES was established under FEMA guidelines and implemented through the State Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) Plan promulgated in November 1995.

The employment of amateur radio through RACES is paramount during emergencies or disasters where normal governmental communications systems have sustained damaged or are overwhelmed.

Based on the State RACES Plan and as implemented through each city or county plan, amateur radio can be used to support the following needs:

  • Back-up communications between state and city/county emergency operations centers
  • Back-up communications for E-9-1-1 centers, fire and/or police departments
  • Emergency communications for shelters
  • Other emergency support as needed

What is the difference between RACES and ARES?

RACES is primarily focused to support government emergency management/services agencies during times of an emergency and/or disaster.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) public service arm for providing support primarily to non-government agencies during an emergency/disaster. A primary user of the ARES is the American Red Cross.

Amateur Radio in Island County

Links to amateur radio clubs in Island County can be found in the "LINKS" ​section of these web pages.