FEMA Announces Statewide Test of the Emergency Alert System in Four States

FEMA Announces Statewide Test of the Emergency Alert System in Four States

As part of FEMA’s mission to strengthen preparedness and resiliency, FEMA is working together with state and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasters, to conduct a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in four states. The test, expected to last approximately one minute, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.


The test in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee will verify that participating radio, TV, and cable systems can receive a National Periodic Test (NPT) code messagefrom the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and broadcast the test message. The test message will be the same as previous EAS test messages, with the word “national” added to the message: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test…” The test is designed to occur during the state’s regular monthly EAS test conducted by state officials and broadcasters in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. 


The test requires that radio and television stations make a minor configuration change to their station EAS equipment to receive and process the NPT code message. Participation in the March 18 test is completely voluntary for radio and TV stations and cable operators. There is no Federal Communications Commission liability for stations that choose not to participate. The test is a cooperative effort to ensure that communication channels are available, working and ready to deliver alerts and warnings to the public when an emergency occurs in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. 


FEMA’s IPAWS also supports capabilities for state and local alerting authorities to distribute emergency alerts to cellular phones as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), to broadcast non-weather emergency information to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s All-Hazards Weather Radios, and to publish emergency information and alerts to internet connected unique alerting systems that monitor and redistribute alerts through various Internet applications, services, or websites. Internet redistributors of emergency information can include social media, websites, digital signs and specialized applications. People with disabilities and others with access and functional needs can also pick up the redistributed alert messages through the FEMA IPAWS All-Hazards Information Feed on their devices.


In 2007, FEMA began modernizing the nation’s Public Alert and Warning System by integrating new technologies into the existing alert systems. The new system, IPAWS, became operational in 2011 and today supports over 700 local, state, and federal users. IPAWS uses a standardized message format to enable public safety alerting authorities to send the same alert and warning message over multiple communication pathways at the same time to citizens in harm’s way, helping to save lives.

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