Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is the primary means for providing the public with critical alert information about an emergency or disaster. Under EAS requirements, radio, TV and cable TV stations must participate at the National level or specifically request a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Further, they are encouraged to voluntarily participate in state and local EAS plans.
Since the FCC rules require participants to monitor other participants as determined by state and local plans, the significance of the state and local plans cannot be taken lightly!
The State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) for EAS has developed and received approval from the FCC, for the State EAS Plan. This plan divides the state into sixteen local EAS areas for planning purposes. The National Weather Service (NWS) is also included in the process for using EAS to disseminate critical emergency weather information to the public and government officials.
- Washington State Emergency Alert System Plan
- To view the Required Monthly Test (RMT) schedule, please visit this list (PDF)
The EAS takes advantage of digital technology that will ultimately allow home devices such as AM and FM radios, TVs, or unique receivers to be turned on and an alarm sounded so the listener can hear the message. It will also allow devices serving the hearing and sight impaired to receive the message. The heart of the system is a special encode/decode device sometimes referred to as a "smart box" that all broadcasters are required to have in place. As outlined in the State EAS Plan, all "signal originators" will initiate an alert message from one of the "smart box" devices. Through "electronic encoding" of the message, which this device accomplishes, the message is generated and sent. Through "electronic decoding" of the message, the message is received and/or rebroadcast for the areas the alert message is targeted.
Local EOCs will be able to activate their local area plan through a Local Relay Network (LRN) that allows the local broadcast media to receive and disseminate the message if they so choose. The state EOC can activate EAS either statewide or regionally through the State Relay Network (SRN). This network consists of eleven (11) remotely keyed VHF transmitters on mountaintop sites strategically selected to provide the EAS signal that any broadcast station can receive from at least one of the sites.