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Feds Review Alaska EAS Test

Problems remain with equipment installation, configuration, maintenance

While many stations and local, state and federal EAS participants did take part in the second Alaska test of a national emergency alert message, that trial also showed that some problems need to be addressed.

That’s according to FEMA and Alaska officials in a webinar today.

FEMA IPAWS Program Manager Manny Centeno and Bryan Fisher, chief of operations for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, provided an update on preparations for a national test of the Emergency Alert System. The webinar was aimed at members of the emergency management community and interested broadcasters.

The national EAS test is expected to take place this fall.

Significant dead air was observed between the alert message headers and the initial announcement cueing the announcer, the officials said, adding that FEMA will improve procedures from the origination of the national message to delivery to PEP stations.

Some 96 out of 119 EAS participants aired an alert throughout Alaska in January. Where there were problems, many were due to installation and configuration of EAS equipment, according to Centeno and Fisher.

FEMA and the FCC are working on best practices to recommend to broadcasters and emergency response officials on how to install and maintain EAS gear.

Those going to the NAB spring show next week will also have a chance to hear the latest on EAS at a slate of sessions devoted to the subject Wednesday, April 13 beginning at 8:45 a.m.

— Leslie Stimson