Emergency transmissions/Pending FCC approval

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Sac916

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Are there any Calif laws or FCC laws that allow legit public safety entities to transmit EMERGENCY TRANSMISSIONS via radio equipment without an FCC license - For example: If an agency has access to an interoperability system but without a/or a pending license.

Can the agency use this equipment for DIRE EMERGENCIES, not routine communications until the license is approved.
 

clanusb

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It was my understanding that ANY freq could be used regardless of anything as long as Life or Property was in immediate danger.

I've heard someone come up on a law enforcement freq in Redding and call for help..and no legal charges pressed against them. So I don't see why a public safety entity couldn't use inter-op freqs for that purpose.
 

code3cowboy

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California law would not supersede federal law or FCC Regulations. If you want to use someone elses frequencies, just get their permission.
 

SkipSanders

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The FCC has rules for special temporary authority systems, but they will never be tolerant of 'unauthorized' transmitters.

Public safety is, last I looked, allowed to use any frequency allocated to that service on a low power, no interference basis (low power means like, 5 watts), usually used for simplex handie talkie use on surveillances. Using normal mobile higher power radios without a license or other paperwork is the usual $10,000 fine/day of violation for operation without a license.

In fact, it's a violation of FCC rules for a technician to even program a transmitting frequency into a radio that the user is not licensed for or otherwise legally authorized to use.
 

K6CDO

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It was my understanding that ANY freq could be used regardless of anything as long as Life or Property was in immediate danger.
For those in the Amateur Radio Service (Part 97 rules) the statement applies to a licensee holding a license with limited privileges (like Technician Class) being able to use any Amateur Radio Service frequency in an emergency. Authority is NOT conferred to non-Amateur frequencies (like Public Safety).

I've heard someone come up on a law enforcement freq in Redding and call for help..and no legal charges pressed against them. So I don't see why a public safety entity couldn't use inter-op freqs for that purpose.
A number of the interoperability channels (some at VHF & UHF, and the 700/800 nationwide interoperability channels) are 'licensed by rule.' Any Public Safety licensee has the authority to operate mobile or portable on those frequencies without the requirement to list them on their FCC license.
 

SkipSanders

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I've heard someone come up on a law enforcement freq in Redding and call for help..and no legal charges pressed against them. So I don't see why a public safety entity couldn't use inter-op freqs for that purpose.
The typical response to this sort of violation, unless it's deliberate jamming, is to confiscate the radio instead of prosecution. The FCC is rarely involved, since what will hit you is the local law enforcement people charging you with 'interfering with police business' or somesuch, just as though you went to a scene and got in the way.

When a ham in San Diego tried this, the FCC response was 'They better be on a boat that's on fire, and sinking, right NOW' to try to claim this... and then they better not have had any legal alternative. And yes, his radio was confiscated.
 

scannerboy02

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It is my understanding from reading documents I found on the CalEMA web site a few weeks ago that they had/are in the process of licensing all interop frequencies for use by all public safety agencies in California under the CalEMA licence.

I just did a quick search to try to find the documents and was UTL, I will keep searching and post what I find.
 

code3cowboy

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It is my understanding from reading documents I found on the CalEMA web site a few weeks ago that they had/are in the process of licensing all interop frequencies for use by all public safety agencies in California under the CalEMA licence.

I just did a quick search to try to find the documents and was UTL, I will keep searching and post what I find.

The state is really good about keeping their frequencies licensed, and having the DGS guys track down any interference and mitigating it. Having the interoperability frequencies licensed state wide and maintained by the state keeps that portion of the spectrum legal and has the state interference team to track down problems early on and get them taken care of.

If you look at the CLEMARS plan, it describes the various channels and their functions, then continues on with the application paperwork so the state can add the new subscriber agencies information to the license.

http://www.calema.ca.gov/WebPage/oeswebsite.nsf/PDF/CLEMARS%20Application/$file/CLEMARS_03_App.pdf
 

Tweekerbob

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It's commonplace for agencies up here in El Dorado county to inter-op with each other. That is to say it is not uncommon for CALFIRE, USFS, CHP, the SO and PD to all talk on one another's frequencies.

Somebody mentioned it may be illegal for a tech to program outside agency freqs into a radio, but CHP air support does this all the time. I believe they have a field programmable radio in their units, but nonetheless, they routinely show up on local law and fire nets up here. Additionally, as mentioned above, it's common for the radios to be programmed with other agency's freqs in them. No one is complaining and I can't see why they would; regardless on any legal implications.
 

SkipSanders

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What I said was about programming frequencies that the radio user wasn't legitimately authorized to transmit on. If the licensee has given permission for the given unit to operate as one of 'their' stations, that covers it, under certain conditions.

§ 90.427 Precautions against unauthorized operation.

(a) Each transmitter shall be so installed and protected that it is not accessible to or capable of operation by persons other than those duly authorized by and under the control of the licensee. Provisions of this part authorizing certain unlicensed persons to operate stations, or authorizing unattended operation of stations in certain circumstances, shall not be construed to change or diminish in any respect the responsibility of station licensees to maintain control over the stations licensed to them (including all transmitter units thereof), or for the proper functioning and operation of those stations and transmitter units in accordance with the terms of the licenses of those stations.

(b) Except for frequencies used in accordance with § 90.417, no person shall program into a transmitter frequencies for which the licensee using the transmitter is not authorized.
 

K6CDO

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It's commonplace for agencies up here in El Dorado county to inter-op with each other. That is to say it is not uncommon for CALFIRE, USFS, CHP, the SO and PD to all talk on one another's frequencies.

Somebody mentioned it may be illegal for a tech to program outside agency freqs into a radio, but CHP air support does this all the time. I believe they have a field programmable radio in their units, but nonetheless, they routinely show up on local law and fire nets up here. Additionally, as mentioned above, it's common for the radios to be programmed with other agency's freqs in them. No one is complaining and I can't see why they would; regardless on any legal implications.
As a system manager for a two-county system, I can assure you that agencies like CHP have an extensive list of 'use agreements' granting them access to other state and local agency frequencies. The California Fire Service (through the FIRESCOPE program) had at one point frequency use agreements covering every fire agency in the state, organized by County and Mutual AId Region. A number of County Fire Chief's organizations have kept those agreements up to date.
 

Tweekerbob

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Thank you both. Points well made and taken. It seems the term "authorized" may and can be used ambiguously. From the statutes quoted, there is no indication that a formal agreement be in place for a user to be "authorized"; it could be just a handshake. Furthermore, it states that the licensee is in control of the station and all "authorized" users. This further compounds the ambiguity because the licensee is an agency of xxx number of people. Who is in charge of authorized use? The Sheriff? The radio tech? The dispatcher? The janitor?

FCC licenses for public safety seem to be a farce. I watched my county Sheriff go almost four years without renewing its license (as a side note, it did also renew their forever abandoned VHF-LO frequencies), which tells me that no one is accountable for its use. What's ironic is that a law enforcement agency had been breaking a federal law! While there is a great need for frequency coordination, the FCC farms that out. So to answer the OP's question, I don't think anyone cares.
 

avtarsingh

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kind of along these lines .. this silly amgen tour of calif uses some calfire freqs during the tour

they get approval letters each authorizing the use of the freqs etc

thats the common road

but in a bona fide emergency talk on any freq to get any kind of help you can get
 

SCPD

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When I was in the Forest Service every frequency programmed into my mobiles and handhelds had to have a signed agreement on file. I even had some business frequencies in my radio (ski areas primarily). The public agencies all had Mutual Aid Agreements with frequency use authorizations in them. The administrative and radio tech folks in all the agencies were really on top of this situation.
 

SkipSanders

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but in a bona fide emergency talk on any freq to get any kind of help you can get
This assertion is in the same category (if with somewhat less drastic penalties likely) as saying 'I can carry a loaded gun, because someone might attack me', shooting a mugger (justifiably), and expecting that you won't get arrested for carrying illegally. (NOT saying I agree with the carry laws, here, folks).

You can do whatever you darn well are fool enough to do. Just don't expect not to be punished for doing it.

You do NOT have any 'right' in law/regulations to transmit on a frequency you are not licensed to transmit on. The regulation often quoted applies only to ham stations being allowed to transmit on any HAM frequency in emergencies, even if the operator does not normally have priviledges to transmit on those ham frequencies.

If you had an honest to gosh 'someone is going to DIE, right now, and I have NO other way to get help' situation, sure, transmit. They probably won't put you in jail. They WILL probably confiscate your radio, and tell you 'never ever do that again'.
 

N2JDS

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So if an earthquake was, hypothetically speaking, to hit Calf. and an agency needed help, and all they had left was their one radio, with that interop channel in it left working, that they have a pending license, and they used that said radio to call for help, some of you are saying they would get in trouble? I'd take my chances with going ahead with that mayday call.
 

SkipSanders

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They aren't likely to even notice an actual emergency agency doing it... but if they do, months down the road, when things get organized, if they DO notice it, yes, radio will get a talking to about it, and told not to program in channels they aren't authorized for.

Way I've heard it, they're darn serious about 'no permission, no transmit', including for emergency services. They do NOT want unidentified (unexpected) users showing up on channels and confusing the dispatcher.
 

cousinkix1953

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The typical response to this sort of violation, unless it's deliberate jamming, is to confiscate the radio instead of prosecution. The FCC is rarely involved, since what will hit you is the local law enforcement people charging you with 'interfering with police business' or somesuch, just as though you went to a scene and got in the way.

When a ham in San Diego tried this, the FCC response was 'They better be on a boat that's on fire, and sinking, right NOW' to try to claim this... and then they better not have had any legal alternative. And yes, his radio was confiscated.
You must be talking about the ham who encountered an injured biker out in the boondocks. The cellular phone didn't work; so he got on a sheriff's tactical frequency for help. The San Diego county board of supervisors gave him a medal. Then FCC beauracrats crucified his butt on sheer legal technicalities.

There was quite the write up in Popular Communications at the time and WestLink reports coverage too.

May I ask; where is the FCC up north? Make sure to include eavesdropping on the BoardWalk operations, when on vacation in the Santa Cruz area. The database won't tell you that their private security guards operate hand helds on the city police frequencies too. The use the same callsigns (240-250) on both legal and illegal frequencies, which are nothing like a real cop's IDs. A dead giveaway of illegal activity. Federal agents should have written up the Seaside Company decades ago...
 
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cousinkix1953

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The state is pretty good anbout keeping their licenses up to date. One good example of this is the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. They do a lot of interoperations with local sheriff's deputies, who are heard using 154.665, .680, and 695 mhz mobiles without a license of their own.

Some counties also dispatch local fire and private ambulances on the same frequency rather than using the regular 463 mhz channels for AMR etc. I've heard Cal-Star choppers on those county fire systems too. Over the years, I've heard them on Marine channel 16, CHP blue and a few others...
 

jbaker6953

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You do NOT have any 'right' in law/regulations to transmit on a frequency you are not licensed to transmit on. The regulation often quoted applies only to ham stations being allowed to transmit on any HAM frequency in emergencies, even if the operator does not normally have priviledges to transmit on those ham frequencies.
That is not correct. The applicable regulations are found in 47 CFR 97.403 and 97.405. They read as follows (emphasis added):
97.403. No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radio communication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

97.405. (a) No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station in distress of any means at its disposal to attract attention, make known its con dition and location, and obtain assistance.

(b) No provision of these rules prevents the use by a station, in the exceptional circumstances described in paragraph (a) of this section, of any means of radio communications at its disposal to assist a station in distress.

There are some who believe these provisions still limit the amateur radio operator to the amateur band, but that's probably because they don't know about 47 CFR 97.111(a)(2) which reads:
97.111(a) An amateur station may transmit the following types of two-way communications:
. . .

(2) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with a station in another FCC-regulated service while providing emergency communications;
So there you have it. 47 CFR 97.111(a)(2) bestows an amateur station the authority to make the "transmissions necessary to exchange messages with a station in another FCC-regulated service while providing emergency communications." 47 CFR 97.403 and 47 CFR 97.405 define what constitutes an emergency.

In any case, 97.403 and 97.405 specifically state that no part of this (part 97) rule applies in those emergency cases. That means that even without 97.111, the rules limiting amateurs to specific frequencies in 97.301 are not applicable during the emergency situations described in 97.403 and 97.405.

The FCC has always been very clear that one of the primary missions of amateur radio is emergency communications. It seems strange that so many would interpret the rules in a way that contradicts common sense and the very intent of the FCC in establishing the amateur service in the first place.

Will you get in trouble if you hop on to a local police channel to report a crime in progress when you could have used you cell phone? You bet. Will you get in trouble if you hop on to a local police channel to report a man with a gun shooting at people in the park when you have no cell phone and no other immediate means of communication? Probably not. Even if the rules didn't allow it in any way shape or form, would you really decide that saving yourself some trouble with the FCC was worth people's lives? I doubt it.
 
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