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FEMA, State Broadcasters and Emergency Managers to Test the Emergency Alert System in Six New England States

Release date: 
September 14, 2015
Release Number: 
HQ-15-065

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with state, local, and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasters’ associations, will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, in six New England states.  The test will begin at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and will last approximately one minute. 

The voluntary EAS test will be seen and heard over many radio, television and cable stations in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The EAS test might also be seen and heard in upper New York State if the public normally receives any broadcasts from nearby New England stations.  The word “national” will be added to the test message: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.” 

“The EAS test message will be sent to radio and television stations using a National Periodic Test code that sounds and appears like the regular monthly EAS tests conducted by state officials and broadcasters,” said Roger Stone, Acting Assistant Administrator of FEMA’s National Continuity Programs. “FEMA is working to specify a method for conducting periodic nationwide EAS tests using the National Periodic Test code in the near future.”

The test is designed to have limited impact on the public, with only minor disruptions of radio and television programs that normally occur when broadcasters regularly test EAS in their area. There is no Federal Commissions Commission regulatory liability for stations that choose not to participate. 

The test will assess the operational readiness of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure that will distribute the national-level EAS test message to radio, television and cable operations from origination to reception by public.  It will verify the functionality of EAS stations to receive and broadcast a national test message.  The test requires that radio and television stations make a minor configuration change to their station EAS equipment to receive and process the National Periodic Test code message from the IPAWS system.

In 2007, FEMA began modernizing the nation’s public alert and warning system by integrating new technologies into existing alert systems.  The new system is known to broadcasters and local alerting officials as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or IPAWS.  IPAWS connects public safety officials, such as emergency managers, police and fire departments to multiple communications channels to send alerts to the public when a disaster or other imminent danger occurs. 

More information on the Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is available at www.fema.gov/ipaws or www.ready.gov/alerts. For more information on IPAWS, visit www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/31814.

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Last Updated: 
March 29, 2016 - 20:05
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