RACES--Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service--is a SERVICE authorized in the FCC Regulations. There are many radio services in the FCC Regulations (Fire, Police, Business, Local Government are examples) and they all have several things in common. The Regulations define eligibility, technical parameters, permissible communications, frequencies of operation, and other points.
PART 97--AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE
Subpart A--General Provisions
Sec. 97.3 Definitions.
(a) The definitions of terms used in part 97 are:
(2) Amateur radio services. The amateur service, the amateur-satellite service, and the radio amateur civil emergency service.
(Note: three (3) "services" within one category.)
(37) RACES (radio amateur civil emergency service). A radio service using amateur stations for civil defense communications during periods of local, regional, or national civil emergencies.
RACES was made part of the FCC regulations on August 15, 1952, and reflected experience from 60 years ago, when in 1941, with the onset of World War II, amateur radio activities had been shut down.
Many people do not realize that the WWII Emergency Declaration lasted for many years after the peace treaties were signed, so the FCC RACES language makes more sense in that context.
By the l950s it had been determined that, to support adequately the expanding civil defense program and mission, it would be necessary to allow certain amateur licensees to remain on the air in a national emergency (war powers act, etc.). Thus the RACES was born. Essentially the rules were written to allow the RACES to operate (as such) if ever again a national crisis caused the general suspension of amateur radio operations.
Today's licensees do not realize the wording of the early FCC regulations--97.161: "RACES provides a temporary phase of amateur operation for Civil Defense communications purposes only, and the rules are limited in their force and effect to the period of the present national emergency, including any emergency..." and 97.173: "certification of CD Radio Officer" was made on a special FCC form and could be the holder of a commercial radio operator's license (1st or 2nd class) or specified class amateur license. 97.177 required specific FCC authorization to operate in RACES. Points of Communications (97.219) were more stringent than they are today in 97.407.d and were OBVIOUSLY designated for WAR use.
From the notes of Stanly Harter, RACES Coordinator for California from 1985-1998, we read: "The original idea was to meet perceived needs of the Federal CIVIL DEFENSE Administration. In its early years RACES was supported and promoted in a way that no longer exists. FEMA's predecessors, Department of the Army - Office of Civil Defense and the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, provided RACES planning guidance and Federal matching funds, to a degree."
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