Wildfires emphasize need to improve emergency alert systems – SFGate

This is not about firearms, but about emergency preparedness.

A SF Gate Articles advises that California Wildfires emphasize the need to improve emergency alert systems- article HERE.

At ShastaDefense.com a community emergency Ham Radio Plan has been designed by N. Zeliff. It has been published and being used locally – see details HERE.  Local operators assist in making improvements as we conduct drills and observe real world events.  The system was designed for the local community to use in cases of: Earthquakes, Wildfires, and Situation Reporting (snow storms, power outages, need firewood, need propane, need medical, etc…).  In our area, we have had snow storms, power outages that lasted a week, and had no land line or cell phone. So – who are you going to call?  When there is several feet of snow on the ground, the power is out, and you have no communications, the silence is deafening.

We have had the Ponderosa fire – it was difficult to obtain up to date information.  Moreover, during a  recent fire, I  set up and acted as a mobile Net Control near a fire (seven spot fires), as another radio operator reported into the net from a home base station with Calfire and other dispatches. Other mobile operators also provided reports.   Our communications were short, professional, informative and scheduled every 15 minutes during such an event. Non Ham radio operators listened and were able to learn in real time the status of the fires which were burning near their homes.

For local  participating stations, criteria for issuing an ALERT TONE are set forth. Any participating station operator can send the ALERT TONE on designated frequencies to activate an emergency net.   It will only work if citizens become involved.  We have the local STARC  radio club helping out along with other Ham Radio Operators. You don’t have to join anything.  Just turn on your radio (and leave it on 24/7), and follow the plan. If you are in Shasta County, California, please join in. If you are located elsewhere in the United States, why not set up a program for your area?  The smoke reporting program was designed from scratch.  It is NOT a substitute for 911.

The SF Gate article, illustrated the need for Citizens to take responsibility for their own well being. The article advised:

1. As massive wildfires spread across the North Bay area, Sonoma County officials decided against sending a mass text alert to residents’ cell phones. One concern was that the Officials didn’t want to cause unnecessary panic. In this regard, such may have been fatal for persons who couldn’t evacuate.

2. Other issues included:  “when the fire burns or the flood wipes out cell towers, if the lines go down, how do you notify people when every second counts? …

The reality is that in our mountain area, by the time 911 is called and response arrives, a forest fire could become very large.  Also, it is difficult to determine the source of smoke due to the shifting winds and hills.

With a network of Ham operators, a system has been designed for the purpose of seeking to triangulate on sources of potential smoke / fire using radio reports. It isn’t perfect, but it was used in my neighborhood to locate the source of smoke by smell, wind direction, mapping, etc… .

Thank you.

Nathan Zeliff