(G2B10) RACES Restrictions

G2B10  from the General License Course Section 1.2, Special Services:
When may the FCC restrict normal frequency operations of amateur stations participating in RACES?

A. When they declare a temporary state of communication emergency
B. When they seize your equipment for use in disaster communications
C. Only when all amateur stations are instructed to stop transmitting
D. When the President’s War Emergency Powers have been invoked

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a civil government radio service activated in times of emergency that uses amateur radio frequencies.  Amateur stations and control operators participating in RACES must be certified by a civil defense organization and be registered with that organization.

As a result of input to the federal government from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the US Army Office of Civil Defense, RACES as a replacement of the conventional FCC Amateur Radio Service was established in 1952.  Amateur radio was silenced during World War II and replaced by the War Emergency Radio Service in a less-than-efficient process requiring about six months to implement. A ready-to-implement stand-by service was deemed a better idea after the war, and RACES was established.

FCC Part 97.407 sets forth the provisions for RACES operations. A RACES station may communicate only with

  • Another RACES station
  • An amateur station registered with a civil defense organization
  • A United States Government station authorized by the responsible agency to communicate with RACES stations
  • A station in a service regulated by the FCC whenever such communication is authorized by the FCC

In an actual emergency in which RACES has been activated other amateur radio operations may be curtailed or suspended. Further, Part 97.407(b) states:Rooseveldt

In the event of an emergency which necessitates the invoking of the President’s War Emergency Powers under the provisions of Section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 606, RACES stations and amateur stations participating in RACES may only transmit on the following frequency segments: …

…And it goes on to list frequency segments in each of the amateur bands to which RACES may be restricted.

So, if you are not a RACES member formally registered with a civil authority your amateur privileges may be suspended by the FCC during times of emergency to allow full use of amateur frequencies by RACES.  Even if you are a member of RACES, the amateur frequencies on which you may transmit in a RACES operation may be restricted during a declared War Emergency, and that gets at the heart of this question.  As of this writing, this restriction has never been used by a President.

The answer to General Class question G2B10, When may the FCC restrict normal frequency operations of amateur stations participating in RACES?” is “D. When the President’s War Emergency Powers have been invoked.

Related Questions:  G2B09