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Virginia S.E.C.C.

The Virginia State Emergency Communications Committee

Contact: Bill Fawcett

Contact: Mike Fleming

Complete Committee listing on page A-1 of the State Plan.

Redundant Path to PEP Available

The national level alert function of the Emergency Alerting System is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Over several decades, FEMA has provided equipment for distribution of national level alerts to over 30 AM clear channel stations nationwide, designated as Primary Entry Point stations (PEPs). PEP stations have hardened facilities with generators and, in some cases, tube-based program operating equipment for presumed immunity from an Electro-Magnetic Pulse event (EMP). EMPs are typically associated with detonation of a nuclear device in the upper atmosphere. With the waning threat of nuclear action directed against the United States, current scenarios focus on the most likely triggering event as a coordinated terrorist attack directed against the institutions of government.

During such an event, the government would operate from secure control points. Media access, at least initially, could be restricted to official information distributed through National level Emergency Action Notifications (EANs). National level EANs are only activated upon request of the White House. Broadcast network access to the PEP system has not been incorporated as part of the new EAS communications plan. However, the FCC's Emergency Alerting Advisory Committee, has been interested in establishing first level, reliable communications to a broader number of broadcast facilities, especially those in state capitals, to help facilitate communications to local governments in the event of disruption of essential federal functions.

NPR has launched the operation of a relay on the EAN notifications on their closed-circuit "squawk channel". NPR stations who elect to participate in this program should notify the SECC and their LECC so that their participation in the program may be utilized, if desirable, under the state plan.

Contrary to headlines in the July 19 edition of Radio World, stations who participate will not automatically be considered LP-2 stations. Each station will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The Squawk Channel

NPR uplinks digital channels on Galaxy IVR (99 degrees C band) TSP 1 and 3. Although most opeartions have been moved to the "content depot" system, the comstream legacy system has been retained for closed circuit alerting on B78.9 to member stations. This channel will also be used for EAS activities.

Since no direct link to the PEP system is available, the CPCS stations in closest proximity to the PEP operating center, WBAL and co-owned WIYY in Baltimore, were identified as conduits for receipt of such messages. In January 2000 NPR established reliable reception of the WIYY signal using a dedicated rooftop yagi at 635 Massachusetts Ave. That signal feeds an EAS decoder, which has been inserted in the audio chain of the News Division's Squawk Channel (Comstream B78.9). The decoder has been set to pass through all National level Emergency Action Notifications.

City/County FIPS Confusion

This link contains the official list from the State Plan. The controlling document is the U.S. Commerce Department FIPS CODE LIST , Publication 6-4, as updated by several CHANGE NOTICES, including the deletion of SOUTH BOSTON, VA.

You should be aware that Virginia is somewhat unique in that it has 40 independent cities, most of which are fully contained with a single county. Some cities have the SAME NAME as another Virginia County (See "Richmond"). Worse yet, JAMES CITY is a COUNTY.

Rumor has it that a future revision of the FCC specifications for EAS equipment will cause CITY or COUNTY to be placed with the locale name on all printouts. This should alleviate some of the confusion. In the meantime, when annoucing an alert, make sure that you reference that it is concerning _____ County or City, as applicable.

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