FEMA Drafting EAS Best Practices
August 16, 2011
WASHINGTON In its quest to create a more
functional and resilient Emergency Alert System, the Federal Emergency
Management Agent, along with its federal partners the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, are
planning a nationwide test of the presidential alert code on Nov. 9.
To prepare broadcasters and other test
participants for that exercise, FEMA has begun crafting a set of best practices
related to EAS antennas, receivers/tuners and equipment installation and
configuration. It is working with broadcast and cable associations, local
governments and other EAS participants in doing so.
You can contribute to the discussion at
the National Dialogue on the EAS website
FEMA hopes to have a draft of the best
practices ready for discussion during a webinar planned for Aug. 15.
Reception (EAS Network)
AM/FM Antenna Best Practices
- Evaluate your signal acquisition needs and select a suitable antenna.
- Whenever possible, use an exterior antenna for better performance.
- For AM, a tuned whip or tuned loop antenna may prove useful.
- For locations with high station density, a directional antenna may be
- Observe proper grounding.
- Use high-quality, low-loss coax to reduce signal loss and interference.
A Sept. 1 webinar is slated
to cover EAS equipment operation and maintenance.
The national test “is not a pass or fail measure,” nor will
it test Common Alerting Protocol equipment or procedures, according to Manny
Centeno, EAS test program manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s
Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.
Those who originate alerts should make
sure messages are clear and free of distortion, Centeno said during a webinar
in July, describing one of the draft best practices. While that advice may
sound basic, “The audio will go through several levels” as a message moves through
the EAS system, he said. “There will be degradation, so we need to make sure it
FEMA notes that EAS message reception at
stations is more challenging in rural environments and in locations subject to
manmade electric noise sources such as dimmers, overhead power lines, computers
and electric motors including those on fans, blowers and compressors. Some of
the best practices under discussion would mitigate these challenges to AM and
Reception (EAS Network)
Receiver/Tuner Selection General Best Practices
- The use of a high-quality tuner or receiver is highly desirable.
- Select a tuner/receiver with good sensitivity and selectivity.
- Select a receiver/tuner with external antenna inputs.
- Ensure that the receiver/tuner has appropriate audio output connections.
Tips include evaluating your signal
acquisition needs; selecting a suitable antenna; using an external antenna
whenever possible; and using a whip or loop antenna for AM and a directional
antenna for FM. See more of the recommendations below.
Using these antennas, “you’re stacking
the odds so you have a better signal coming into your EAS receiver,” Centeno
said, and are better able to transmit an audible alert to the next station in
the chain and/or to the public.
One more note about the upcoming national EAS test; the
Washington, DC location code will be used for the originating message. Centeno said
most EAS encoders/decoders can relay the Emergency Action Notification that will originate out of FEMA without stations needing to
re-program the device, adding that more information on the EAN will be
Leslie Stimson, Radio World
Source: FEMA IPAWS
of EAS Equipment Installation and Configuration
EAS Device General Best Practices
- Conduct Required Weekly Tests and Required Monthly Tests, as required.
- These actions test the encoder and audio output of the EAS device to the air
chain. These also check for contact closures/GPI interfaces and serial outputs
for text crawl, etc.
- Ensure EAS device audio inputs and outputs are in working order.
- Alert audio input circuitry could have been compromised unknowingly.
- This is important if you do not receive regular alerts or tests (especially for
LP-1 and other primaries). Check for proper grounding.
- Ensure that your monitoring source (tuner/receiver, etc.) is feeding clear
audio to the EAS device.
- Most EAS devices allow for monitoring through the device’s internal speaker.
- Audio presence and quality can also be checked at the input terminals of the
- If your facility is a primary EAS participant (LP, SP, etc.), ask your alerting
authorities to conduct coordinated tests (even if these are not placed on-air).
- Doing this exercises the decoder functions of your EAS device.
- If your facility receives alerts from other EAS participant relays (radio,
television, cable), as described in your State EAS Plan, ensure that you are
receiving their RWT and RMTs (check the device’s logs or printouts).
- If you are not receiving these test messages, alert your EAS source stations
and check your receiver/tuner and other source devices.
- If your receiver/tuner is working
properly, contact your relay or activation source and let them know you are not
receiving their RWT/RMTs.
- Ensure the correct state and county FIPS Codes are programmed.
- Ensure the station call sign is programmed.
- Ensure that the appropriate Originator and Event Codes are programmed for
- Check the EAS device for Automatic/Manual message relay setting. Set to your
facility’s desired action.
- Check auxiliary or other necessary external equipment, such as distribution
amplifiers, audio switching equipment, text crawl generators for proper
connections and operation.
- Periodically check the operation of the device printer (if one is included) or
log output to a PC.
- It has been discovered that some devices reboot when alerts are received. Check
power supplies for proper operation.
- Check and adjust all audio levels to and from the device to minimize distortion
To contribute to the Best
Practices Guide, visit nationaldialogue-emergencyalertsystem.ideascale.com.