Local and state government alerting authorities as well as broadcasters from four states are preparing for next week’s regional EAS test, which is a lead-up to an eventual second live end-to-end nationwide test. FEMA IPAWS Program Management Office plans to conduct a nationwide IPAWS test using EAS once pending changes in FCC EAS testing rules are in effect.
The regional test, coordinated by the four state broadcast associations, is slated for March 18 at 2:30 Eastern in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System’s Lab will originate a Common Alerting Protocol message containing the National Periodic Test event code.
IPAWS triggers EAS alerts for radio, TV and cable systems and can support audio attachments, audio links and text-to-speech, according to Al Kenyon, FEMA IPAWS test lead. Observers of the four-state test will also monitor Wireless Emergency Alerts for a scheduled WEA Required Monthly Test, Kenyon said in a webinar last week aimed at broadcast engineers and operations managers.
Stations taking part in the March 18 test will need to adjust the incoming message filters on their EAS encoders/decoders to immediately rebroadcast the NPT messages with their state location code. There are a total of some 1,350 FM stations, 520 AM and 300 TV stations in the four-state area involved in the test.
EAS equipment vendors Sage Alerting Systems, Digital Alert Systems, Gorman-Redlich, TFT and Trilithic provided instructions on how to adjust message filtering on their EAS devices during the webinar.
As of late January, 47 states and 429 localities have the authority to originate alerts through FEMA IPAWS; 209 localities and two states are in the process.
The first national EAS test was Nov. 9, 2011.