*Updated 10/16/2019 to include ARRL response* — however this seems to be a developing issue which may be isolated or misinterpreted. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.
When natural disasters, like wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, and hurricanes, take out centralized power and communications infrastructures, non-profit volunteer radio operators (certified and regulated by the FCC) like ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), Mars, Races, and others have stepped up countless times in countless jurisdictions to provide the last line of communications when all else fails. Recent administrative action by Cal Fire threaten that last line of defense.
Ham radio provides for communications *without* centralized maintenance when all else fails and puts communications directly in the hands of the people. It is a distributed and decentralized lifeline that saves lives and helps first-responders coordinate scarce resources- as recently as the California Camp Fire, Hurricanes in Panama City, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. These examples burn fresh in our collective memories. Without ham radio, countless more lives would have been lost. Without communications, relief and recovery efforts are paralyzed.
So, fittingly, an un-elected bureaucrat in California has decided that the cost/benefit analysis of Ham radio (which the state doesn’t even pay for) is not worth it and has demanded that ham radio volunteers (who graciously provide repeater equipment and run weekly drills free of charge) must take down their repeaters or pay tens of thousands of dollars a year in state fees. This strains the bounds of credulity! Why would you imperil, rather than foster and support effectual efforts to integrate the community in the disaster relief plans?
More coverage here:
If you think it imprudent to turn our backs on the last line of defense, you may want to contact these “officials” below:
E-Mail: Lorina.Pisi@fire.ca.gov Telephone: 916-327-8492 Fax: 916-324-3400
Governor Gavin Newsom: Phone: (916) 445-2841 Fax: (916) 558-3160