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Get Out Now!      June- October 2022 
California Fire District Uses Radio & StreamCASTs to Move Residents Out of Harm's Way
Wildfire FightersNortheast of Sacramento, California, the Foresthill Fire Protection District had been operating a RadioSAFE System for two years and had been granted a waiver by the FCC to run at higher signal levels. Operator Richard Hercules told The Source that he has usable listening reports for 14 miles from the antenna, with 10 watts of transmitter power, and is streaming the content to the District’s website as well. The District also published a Q/R code for instant stream access.

“Local agencies have given us great feedback on messaging, when emergency conditions are declared throughout our county and adjacent counties,” said Hercules. “We have started another grant cycle to expand our radio signal further.” The RadioSAFE RSF 500:10 System includes a higher powered transmitter that can be employed in a crisis on a temporary basis with FCC permission. 

In the
fall, the Foresthill Fire Protection District in California battled the Mosquito Wildfire in the rugged mountains northeast of that town. Excellent timing. Operator Richard Hercules told The Source that he still had usable listening reports for 14 miles from the antenna, with 10 watts of transmitter power. The District is also streaming content to their website, where thousands tuned in daily for evacuation updates. (See StreamCASTing.)
Foresthill CA Installation  Foresthill Antenna 
Rich Hercules Flanked by Antenna Installers, Foresthill Fire Protection District, CA  Foresthill FPD's Antenna
“We have started another grant cycle to expand our radio signal farther,” said Hercules. In emergencies, the FCC will often permit a higher powered transmitter substitution to boost coverage even more, based on the situation.
One Wildfire Is Bad Enough
Emergency Managers in California Soon to Use Satellite Links to Directly Disseminate Evacuation Instructions to Car Radios & Outdoor Warning Speakers
Salinas CA River Fire 
“River Fire” near Salinas, CA, 2020
When the order comes to evacuate, what information source does the public trust? How can evacuees be certain they are not turning into an oncoming disaster instead of escaping it? Increasingly, emergency managers are looking to radio instead of relying solely on social media, which, history shows, has the potential to become a wildfire of its own.

In the February 2022 edition of The Communication Review, a published study finds that the logistics of various social media platforms have a decidedly negative effect on the work of emergency managers and responders. The author details how in a crisis, social media information can become tangled with subjective accounts, outdated facts and heresay, inadvertently enhancing ambiguity instead of clarity. The result can be to increase public uncertainty at precisely the time that public resolve is required.

Some communities are embracing a novel form of radio technology to counter this effect so they can minimize “social media wildfires” and maintain control of communication channels:

Riverside County, California, was procuring more than 30 Genasys satellite-linked outdoor audio warning systems in the San Jacinto Mountains to direct evacuations during crises such as wildfires and earthquakes. The unique design would allow emergency managers to direct evacuees by radio (
see more about RadioSAFE Systems), so when they enter their cars to escape, updated radio messages will direct their routes. The emergency radio, speaker sound and mass notification (email/text/phone) systems will be managed from a single control platform.
Fireman Erik Olson  Red Rock's Antenna 
Fireman Erik Olson Standing beside BLM Antenna The system’s antenna is visible atop the Visitor Center.
At the Bureau of Land Management’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservancy Area west of Las Vegas, management has just installed a RadioSAFE Emergency Radio System to inform visitors of rapidly changing conditions that can affect their safety. The Red Rock Canyon is a bowl-shaped area with a 5-mile loop road that could quickly become impassible due to a fast-burning fire or a weather-related event. On a given day, thousands of visitors may be driving, hiking, biking or rock climbing in the vulnerable canyon area.
Putting Out Fires December 2012
Information Stations Invaluable in California Wildfire Evacuations
California Wildfire and Travelers Information StationsSANTA BARBARA, CA: Two significant wildfires in three weeks near Santa Barbara, California, tested the area’s Emergency Advisory Radio Stations’ ability to direct the public quickly out of harm’s way.

On October 17, a vegetation fire caused by downed power lines required the evacuation of Painted Cave, CA – a community that lost more than 400 homes and public buildings in a devastating fire in 1990. The nearby San Marcos Pass Information Station on AM 1040, operated by Mike Williams, broadcast critical fire and evacuation information continuously for residents as they lined up on Highway 154 to exit. In the end, all lives and structures were saved and the fire was contained to 44 acres.

Three weeks later, a similar fire in Montecito, California's, backcountry triggered emergency evacuation information to be broadcast on Montecito Fire Protection District’s Information Station on AM 1610. The San Marcos Pass station carried the evacuation information, as well. Fortunately, this fire was contained by late afternoon and residents returned to intact homes.

States Williams, “The use of low power radio in emergency situations proves invaluable. The ability to provide quick information to the public is essential during fast moving events such as wildfires.” See the San Marcos case study.
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.