Just over one year ago, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management solicited other jurisdictions and agencies to assist with a petition that would provide more flexibility to those who operated low-power AM radio stations, like Fort Bend County 1670 AM. This station is operated by Fort Bend County OEM. Similar stations are operated by other jurisdictions in our region, including the City of Stafford. Over 35 installations are currently operating in Texas. These stations are operated by cities, counties, private companies, universities, state agencies, and federal agencies. The purpose of these stations is to provide emergency information to travelers and citizens about such things as road closures; chemical releases; weather information; et cetera. These stations are a critical part of the emergency notification system in jurisdictions across the country. Much has happened since the petition was sent to the FCC. The primary purpose of the petition was to help ensure that FCC regulations and procedures would be worded in a manner to protect emergency advisory radio stations such as the one used by Fort Bend.
The American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO) was founded in 2008, after a coalition of public safety, transportation, university and outdoor recreation officials informally petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the clarification of Travelers Information Station (TIS) Part 90 Rules. A link to AAIRO can be found in the Blogroll In the era of post-September 11, America’s public safety officials sought to utilize Information Radio Station technology to further public safety in ways not previously envisioned by the original rule-writers in the mid-1970s. The FCC just issued a notice inviting public comment on the petition that the American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO) submitted last year. Whether or not you are an AAIRO member, I urge jurisdictions and agencies to register your support before the FCC makes a ruling on the petition. Why? Because the petition asks the FCC to make clear that licensed information radio station operators (such as Fort Bend County and the City of Stafford) may broadcast any public safety message at any time that is deemed to further the protection of life and property. It also requests that rules be clarified so the operator of the station has the authority to make this decision. (Go to this link if you would like to read the exact wording of AAIRO’S petition: www.aairo.org/fcc-petition.htm)
It’s easy to register your comments in one of two ways. Pleaser either write a brief note and email it to info@AAIRO.org. AAIRO will gather comments and submit them to the FCC by the March 16 deadline. Or, you may submit your remarks directly at the FCC website http://http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/upload_v2.cgi. Be sure to include the docket number 09-19 (in the “Proceeding” field) and be sure to mention the AAIRO petition in your comments. The deadline is March 16, 2009. We live in an unpredictable world with many people on the road at any given time. There should be no question that operators of Travelers Information Radio Stations should have the right to transmit critical information to travelers as needed, and at any time.