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OTA-Only National EAS Test Set for Aug. 7

 - Time to Check EAS Gear/Procedures

FEMA has scheduled the next national EAS test for Aug. 7 at 2:20PM (Eastern). Unlike previous tests it will rely on the network of FEMA-designated Primary Entry Point broadcast stations in order to assess how well the system can function absent Internet connectivity. Previous tests relied on the IP-based Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS).

The test date is earlier than in previous years and falls at the end of peak tornado season in the Midwest and beginning of peak hurricane season along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.  It’s also a time few college stations are fully staffed. 

The back-up date, in case of a major weather event like a hurricane, is set for Aug. 21. Whenever the test occurs, it will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) event code and be geotargeted using the All-US (000000) geocode.

FCC Reporting Deadlines
Reports leading up to the test and afterward will need to be filed electronically by all EAS participants on the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). Deadlines include:

  • Form One – Participants must renew their identifying information on a yearly basis. This year’s deadline is July 3.
  • Form Two – This “day of test” report is due no later than 11:59PM (Eastern).
  • Form Three – Detailed post-test data must be submitted on or before Sept. 23.

Stations should act now to ensure their EAS equipment is current, fully installed and current with software updates, set to monitor the correct EAS sources as listed in the Texas State EAS Plan. Test preparation should include reviewing EAS procedures with station staff to avoid problems that have surfaced in previous tests, such as continuing to run program audio behind the test message.

FCC Notice and Contacts
The FCC issued this detailed notice June 3 which includes contact information for two staff available to assist stations, including Elizabeth Cuttner and Maureen Bizhko. They can also be reached at 202-418-2145.

FEMA Upgrading PEP Stations
FEMA’s multi-year, multi-million-dollar upgrade and expansion of its PEP facilities remains underway. The network is comprised of 77 mostly AM Radio Stations that have a direct connection to FEMA. The agency says the modernization and expansion effort has improved the network’s direct coverage of the U.S. population from 67 percent in 2009 to more than 90 percent today.

A typical PEP facility is comprised of fenced-in shipping containers that include everything needed to broadcast remotely, including a studio, backup transmitter and generator. It also includes facilities for a two-person staff, such as a 60-day supply of food and water, bunks and an air filtration system.

The facilities are costing about $1.5 million each and FEMA has finished about two-thirds of the 77 PEP stations.

Take a Peek at FEMA’s PEP Pods

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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