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Fire Chiefs Press FCC on Emergency Alerting

Moving forward on the activation of FM chips in smartphones on the agenda

The International Association of Fire Chiefs has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting improved capabilities of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. Included in these improvements would be consideration of the activation of FM chips in smartphones.

The group “strongly” supports the proposal of increasing WEA message length limits from 90 characters to 360 characters. In addition, it supports the addition of URLs to the messages that would send recipients to websites with more information.

Specifically for radio broadcasters, the association urged the FCC to consider working together with cellular carriers “to develop standard approaches for accessing FM radios in smartphones for WEA messages.”

It added, “Driving consumers to their FM radios after an alert may help relieve congestion on the wireless broadband network during times of emergency, freeing up vital capacity for emergency responders and others. We encourage the FCC to further explore the feasibility of use of this method to provide information to the public during an emergency.”