Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is an Organization of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) licensed amateur radio operators who volunteer to provide radio communications for state and local governments during times of emergency. Created in 1952 primarily to serve in civil defense emergencies, RACES operators provide essential communications and warning links to supplement state and local government agencies during emergencies.
RACES is organized to provide emergency communications for civil preparedness purposes only. RACES is a special part of the amateur radio services sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is conducted by amateur radio operators using their primary station licenses or by existing RACES stations. If the President invokes the War Emergency Powers Act, amateur radio operators enrolled with their local emergency management offices would become limited to certain frequencies, while all other amateur operations would be silenced.
During an emergency, RACES is operated under the direct control of the activating emergency management office, as authorized by the FCC and the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES).
RACES is authorized by Section 606 of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended by Part 97.407 of the FCC. RACES guidance is also provided by FEMA document CPG1-15. Note: FCC rules, Part 97, still apply to all RACES stations and RACES operators participating in RACES operations.