Kalamazoo County R.A.C.E.S.

When All Else Fails

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

About Us

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 service to replace the Amateur Radio Service during wartime was developed in 1952 as result of input from the American Radio Relay League 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. The resulting standby RACES service was designed to provide a smoother transition in the event the President ever needed to silence the regular Amateur Radio Service again when invoking the War Powers Act. Ironically, despite four wars involving the United States since 1952, this has never happened.

When activated, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service will consist of 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 would be suspended and RACES operations might be restricted to certain frequencies within the amateur radio bands.

In addition to wartime communications, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service operations 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.