Realizing that ARES/RACES has been a touchy topic for some I decided to revisit it. In short most of what we as amateur radio operators involved in EMCOM do does not fall under RACES. RACES is not an organization that you can join. RACES is a set of regulations contained in Part 97 of the FCC rules.

RACES applies only when:

  1. Amateurs are using non-amateur frequencies or modes to communicate with government agencies during an emergency or disaster. or
  2. Amateurs are operating during an emergency or disaster when the amateur service has been ordered off the air by the federal government.

To operate under RACES when necessary your station must be registered with the local civil defense agency. Here in SNJ that usually means the county OEM.

ARES, on the other hand, is a group of volunteers organized by the ARRL to provide public service communications. ARES is led by an Emergency Coordinator in each county, reporting to the Section Emergency Coordinator. In the SNJ section we also have a number of Assistant SEC’s with varying responsibilities reporting to the SEC. The SEC in turn reports to the Section Manager (SM).

While ARES often works with county OEM’s here in SNJ, we do not fall in their chain of command. Likewise they cannot make decisions on how ARES is to be run. This includes CERT. While CERT may require amateur radio support ARES does not fall under the CERT umbrella. CERT membership and/or training are not required for ARES membership.

It is the responsibility of the county EC’s and the SEC to coordinate with served agencies, including but not limited to the county OEM’s, to provide communication services. It is important that all county EC’s and AEC’s are clear on their roles so that we may provide the best service possible to our partners.


SNJ ARES Staff Meeting

Yesterday’s meeting was very informative, and seemed to be well received. The common thread among the speakers was the need to work together across the section. Skip, our SM spoke briefly about how ARES fits in the section. Keith, KC2OON, who is ASEC for Severe WX, spoke about being prepared for severe wx by sharing information through social media. Dennis, K2DCD, spoke about the Mt. Holly Skywarn program. John, K2ZA, spoke about the MCC-South auxcom program.

Please remember that all EC reports are due by the 5th of each month. The easiest way to report is through the portal at January reports are due 2/10/16.

To view Keith’s presentation about severe wx please go to

To view my presentation about the future of SNJ ARES please go to



EMP’s and radio

Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is and induced electrical current that is primarily brought about by either a solar storm or a nuclear explosion high in the Earth’s atmosphere.  During a solar storm charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s magnetic field and can induce currents strong enough to damage electrical equipment. The strongest solar storm on record was the Carrington event in 1859, which caused severe trouble with telegraph lines. Should a Carrington class event occur again the damage to modern electronics could certainly be devastating. Fortunately with modern technologies warning of a solar storm of this magnitude would likely exceed  12 hours. The best defense against EMP damage to your station is awareness and prevention. Monitoring websites such as the Space Weather Prediction Center ( can keep you alert of solar conditions.

Unplugging equipment from power, data, and antenna connectors can potentially limit the damage to your station from and EMP. Consider storing back-up equipment in some survivable enclosure such as a Faraday cage. Amateur radio is a valuable service to provide communications when normal means are disrupted. However, if your station is damaged by an EMP you will be unable to use it to communicate during the aftermath of such a disaster. Prevention is key.