What Is RACES?
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is an emergency radio public service provided by a volunteer communications group within government agencies in times of extraordinary need. FCC Regulations, Part 97 (Amateur Radio), Subpart E, §97.407, describes RACES operations in detail.
During periods of RACES activation by State, County, or Local Emergency Management Authorities, certified previously authorized unpaid personnel are called upon to perform communications tasks for the government agencies they serve.
What Does Richardson RACES Do?
Some members of the Richardson Wireless Klub are also appointed members of Richardson RACES. Richardson RACES also uses certain radio assets of the RWK. When activated by the City of Richardson Office of Emergency Management (OEM), specially trained Richardson RACES members provide storm and severe weather spotting to OEM and the National Weather Service (NWS) during times of potential severe weather, and other types of communications support to the OEM during other natural and manmade disasters.
How Can I Participate?
You must apply and be approved by the City of Richardson Office of Emergency Management (OEM) as a Richardson RACES member. You must live and/or work within the city of Richardson, and must pass a background check by the Richardson Police Department. You must attend and pass basic FEMA NIMS training courses (IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800) and must attend the NWS “SKYWARN School” to learn about Severe Weather spotting.
Once approved by OEM, you will be assigned a RACES member number and issued credentials. You must meet minimum participation criteria in training exercises and public service events and attend the NWS Skywarn School every two years (NWS holds basic storm spotter training every year in Dallas and Collin counties, usually in the spring before the severe weather season).
For more information and to apply, please ask any current RACES appointee or visit the City of Richardson RACES site.
SKYWARN and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
In Richardson, many storm spotting operations may not be conducted as official RACES activations and may originate and operate as ARES events with both RACES and non-RACES licensed amateurs participating.
While SKYWARN events are not usually official RACES activations, there are some qualifications for participation. We request that any active participation (more than listen-only) in SKYWARN nets be by trained Weather Spotters (that have completed the NWS Basic SKYWARN School). You can read more about the Fort Worth/Dallas SKYWARN program here.
Radio Amateurs may also participate in emergency and public service communications even if not activated through the official RACES government agencies. Such participation is through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, an organization sponsored by the ARRL and conducted primarily through the ARRL Field Organization.
ARES participants must be trained and qualified and provide their own portable and battery-powered radio equipment that can be used wherever needed. Most ARES groups are organized and operate locally under radio clubs and other local groups, under the direction of the local Emergency Coordinator.
Richardson Siren Testing
RWK and Richardson RACES monitors the monthly Outdoor Warning Siren Tests conducted by the Richardson OEM. The purpose is to check the readiness of the siren system and provide feedback to the OEM to initiate timely repairs if needed.
Siren testing is conducted at noon local time on the first Wednesday of the month, weather permitting. Test monitors are dispatched to each of the 25 sirens in the Richardson system and they assess the proper operation of each siren during the test and report via radio with a central Net Control Operator, who compiles the information and forwards to the OEM after the test is completed. Participation in the siren testing counts toward annual RACES participation criteria.
On other Wednesdays at noon (weather permitting), the sirens are “Growl Tested”. The short-blast growl test is a diagnostic test that briefly workouts the sirens. This test will rotate the sirens for 12-seconds, and then give a brief siren sound. The rotation of the motor and “growl” equipment cycle sounds will be noticeable to those nearby.