Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES)

Amateur Radio Services

After World War II, when it became evident that the international situation was destined to be tense and the need for some civil-defense measures was apparent, successive government agencies designated to head up such a program called on amateur representatives to participate. In the discussions that followed, amateurs were interested in getting two points across: first, that Amateur Radio had a potential for and capability of playing a major role in this program; and second, that our participation should, this time as never before, be in our own name as an Amateur Radio Services, even if and after war should break out. These principles were included into the planning by the formulation of regulations creating a new branch of the amateur services, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES).

Recognition of the role of Amateur Radio as a public service means responsibility - this time in our own name. The RACES regulations are printed in full in the ARRL publication The FCC Rule Book, along with the rest of the amateur regulations, and are not reprinted here. Every amateur should study closely and become familiar with these rules.


RACES, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States government, is a part of the Amateur Radio Services that provides radio communications for civil-preparedness purposes only, during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies. These emergencies are not limited to war-related activities, but can include natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.

As defined in the rules, RACES is a radio communication service, conducted by volunteer licensed amateurs, designed to provide emergency communications to local or state civil-preparedness agencies. It is important to note that RACES operation is authorized by the FCC at the request of a state or federal official, and this operation is strictly limited to official civil-preparedness activity in the event of an emergency communications situation.


The Washtenaw County Emergency Services Division welcomes RACES participation under strict guidelines. The following links provide the required documentation to become a member of Washtenaw County's RACES: