Ham radio operators to help out on July 4

Palo Alto Fire Department to activate Palo Alto Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civilian Emergency Services

The Palo Alto Fire Department is calling on ham radio operators to help watch over fire-sensitive areas around the city during the Fourth of July holiday.

Between 15 and 20 operators will be stationed at strategic vantage points -- such as Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, Foothills Park and the Stanford Dish -- to report any fires or other illicit activity, according to Suzan Minshall, emergency manager for the Palo Alto Fire Department. The operators will be on alert from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The fire watch is an annual Fourth of July event and only Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed operators can participate. In a decade that has seen numerous advances in communication technology, the fire department still relies on ham radios in emergency situations because radio frequencies are not affected by power outages.

"Ham radios are not outdated," Minshall said. "They are the things people go to when other forms of communication go out."

Minshall added that the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of Palo Alto City Hall has seats specifically for ham radio stations.

"They are involved in just about every drill that we do," she said.

In addition to providing an increased level of notification for the city, Minshall said the watch will give operators valuable communication training in the foothills and surrounding areas.

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Like this comment
Posted by Marty
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Amateur radio, or "ham radio" is really fun, and really useful. There are many different aspects of this hobby that people can explore, and many different levels of involvement. Its not hard at all to get your license. I know of one group that offers 1-day exam "cram" sessions to get you going right away. There's all kinds of people involved - young and old alike, people with technical backgrounds and people (like myself) with no technical expertise or training at all. Though there's plenty of fancy radios out there, you can get started with basic equipment or used equipment that's pretty inexpensive.

Here's a couple of links to get anyone interested pointed in the right direction - one is for the ARRL, a ham organization, and for the Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association.

Web Link
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Cimino
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Thank you again to those who help organize and oversee this event. The Fire Department depends on ham radio operators for small and large events. To all of you that participate, enjoy the night watching deer, and other wild life. But, most of all, enjoy the partnership with the fire department personnel!

Like this comment
Posted by Bobbie
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Don't BBQ a ham, we need them for fire watch.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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