Mason County Michigan

Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio - Auxiliary Communication Services

In order to supplement and enhance communications during local emergencies or disasters, the Mason County Emergency Management Office works with amateur radio operators to provide alternative communication methods when primary systems are ineffective.  Local amateur radio operators may become affiliated with the Mason County ARES or RACES organization; however, we encourage all volunteers to join both organizations to be able to serve their community in more ways.

All amateur radio volunteers need to be trained in order to provide support in the event of an emergency or non-emergency situation. ARES  (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) volunteers consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment with their local ARES.  ARES is managed at the local level consistent with guidelines established by the ARRL  (Amateur Radio Relay League).   RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) was established as a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) program and is administered by the local emergency management office.  Both organizations strive to serve their communities in times of disaster.


Mason County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

RACES’  protocols were created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC Part 97, Section 407). Many government agencies across the country train their auxiliary communications volunteers using the RACES protocol. The volunteers serve their respective jurisdictions pursuant to guidelines and mandates established by local emergency management officials. 

RACES volunteer operators are:

  • Licensed Radio Amateurs
  • Affiliated with an emergency management agency
  • Able to communicate on Amateur Radio frequencies during drills, exercises and emergencies


When are RACES volunteers used?

When activated by government officials.  RACES are the only Amateur Radio operators authorized to transmit during declared emergencies such as September 11th, Hurricane Sandy, and locally the severe weather that impacted Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties in August of 2015.


How do I volunteer?

RACES and ARES are both vital organizations and need your participation to make them effective.  To register with ARES contact your local EC.  Visit:

To apply for RACES complete the Application for RACES Membership, which includes a background check.  Submit completed documents to the Emergency Management Office or the RACES Radio Officer.

The Mason County Radio Organization’s Policy is available here.