Details on National EAS Test

On June 23, 2011, in CAP, Emergency Alert System, News, by with SRA International

On June 9, 2011, FEMA and FCC announced they will conduct the first-ever nationwide EAS test later this year. The details, as we know them so far from recent webinars, are posted below. The information will be updated on AWARE as more is known.

Date & Time: November 9, 2011, at 2:00PM EST.

Length of Test: Between 3 and 3 ½ minutes. [Normal EAS messages are limited to 2 minutes, so this test must be longer than 2 minutes to test that EAS units fully pass the President’s unlimited-length message.]

The event will test legacy EAS, not CAP. [CAP will be tested in future tests.]

The Emergency Action Termination (EAT) code will not be used. [The test will consist of the Emergency Action Notification (EAN) code followed by the audio message and finishing with the End of Message (EOM) code. Because this procedure does not follow the one outlined in the FCC EAS Operating Handbook, FEMA will be releasing a procedure guidebook on the test.]

NOAA Weather Radio will not carry the test.

The test will not use the President’s voice.

EAS Location Code will be Washington, DC. [Equipment manufacturers have said this will not be an issue, and no EAS unit re-programming is necessary.]

EAS Originator Code will be Primary Entry Point (PEP).

The test will be disseminated nationwide through an NPR satellite channel as well as over a network of specially-designated Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations. [Many states with inadequate PEP coverage will rely on the NPR feed to carry the test.]

Stations which normally monitor a station that is designated as a PEP station may see PEP RWTs on their EAS unit logs in the months leading up to the test. [Nothing special needs to be done in regard to the tests. This information is just being provided here as an explanation if such tests are noticed on your EAS unit log.]

Stations must file a post-test report with the FCC indicating the station they received the test from and if the test was rebroadcast. [FCC will provide details on how this reporting will work as test time nears].

Questions have been raised whether FCC will levy fines to stations reporting they did not carry the test. FCC has stated that while by law they cannot waive enforcement, they do have discretion in issuing fines and the intention of the post-test reporting is to assess the success of the test; it is not an enforcement exercise.

The months leading up to this test would be a good time for State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs) to reexamine the flow of the EAN alert through their State EAS Network. One of the stated goals of the FCC post-test reporting is for the Commission to determine if the monitoring assignments in each state are adequately distributing the EAN message.

FEMA will conduct an “aggressive information campaign” with broadcasters, cable operators, emergency management, 911 centers, state EAS committees, and the public. Webinars are scheduled for July 1, August 1, and September 1. [Webinar information is at link below.]

Useful Links:

Press Release on National EAS Test:
http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=55722

FCC FAQ on National EAS Test:
http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test

FEMA Webinars and site to provide your input to FEMA on EAS:
https://nationaldialogue-emergencyalertsystem.ideascale.com/

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