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Is CAL FIRE Trying to Dismantle the Ham Radio System Amid Blackouts and Wildfires? | News and Politics – PJ Media

EDITOR’S NOTE: After two readers reached out to PJ Media asking us to investigate this story further, we’ve determined that the details may be more complicated than at first glance. According to a press release from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for amateur radio, fears about the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) seeking to dismantle the Ham radio system may have been overblown. “By all credible and reliable accounts, the State of California has not turned its back on Amateur Radio as an emergency communication resource nor have established repeater owners been asked to remove their equipment from state-owned sites unless they pay sizeable fees,” the organization said.

If that’s the case, why did a CAL FIRE official send a letter to a repeater owner/group informing them that amateur radio equipment would have to be removed from state-owned sites if they didn’t pay up? The official has not responded to a request for comment from the ARRL, so it’s not clear what happened.

“The State of California has not made any determination we can find ‘that Ham Radio [is] no longer a benefit,’” Pacific Division Director Jim Tiemstra wrote at the Sacramento Valley Section website. [Emphasis added] “What happened is that CAL FIRE has transferred responsibility for its communications sites to its property management department. That department has the task of evaluating each site, its condition, use, and tenants. If a repeater not known to be associated with the emergency management function of a local jurisdiction is found in a CAL FIRE vault, the default action is to move it out or subject it to commercial rental rates.”

“Our contact in the California Office of Emergency Services suggests that, if any affected repeater is in any way involved with local emergency or government support activity, they should ask that agency to engage with CAL FIRE concerning the repeater. If the agency makes the case, there is a good chance that the repeater will be unaffected,” Tiemstra added.

Cal Fire needs to get this straightened out immediately so that amateur radio operators can get back to the important job of providing vital communication links to their communities without having to fear they could be hammered by fines levied by zealous bureaucrats.

Original article: 

As if things aren’t bad enough in California with wildfires and power outages, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

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