RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

What Is RACES?

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was created in 1952 by the FCC (in partnership with ARRL and FEMA’s predecessor, the Office of Civil Defense) to provide additional communications support to government agencies during times of war and for other state or local emergencies. Like ARES®, RACES is an Amateur Radio service and only licensed amateurs are eligible for membership.

On the surface, RACES and ARES® appear to be very similar. However, there are several distinct differences between the two services:

  • RACES services are activated only at the specific request of an authorized government official.
  • RACES nets are restricted to supporting only federal, state, or local government agencies.
  • RACES nets may only pass official government traffic.
  • Only specific individuals are authorized to pass traffic to other levels of RACES networks.
  • RACES members must undergo a government background check.
  • You must be a registered and approved RACES member prior to an event to participate in RACES nets.