Bernalillo County ARES Membership

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a desire to serve. Because ARES is an Amateur Service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.

BC ARES has monthly meetings where training is often offered at many of those meetings. Also, you can interact with and learn from each other, including of course by asking questions. There are free courses available online from FEMA which are of special value to ARES members. There are also various types of exercises, drills, available in which you can participate to get realistic experience. These are some of the opportunities to help you become more skilled and confidant in being prepared to and in providing disaster response communications.

Other training and skills maintenance opportunities include supporting various groups in the community. This is done by providing radio communications support for special events such as the Duke City Marathon, charity bike rides and others. While these events are (in FEMA terminology) planned incidents as opposed to unplanned incidents (emergencies and disasters), these events provide a valuable service to our community and a less stressful chance to learn and practice the same skills and procedures we use during emergencies and disasters.

We encourage you to register as a member of Bernalillo County ARES. Download an application form below and when it is completed, return it to the BC ARES Emergency Coordinator and the District Emergency Coordinator. (See the “Contacts” page on this website.)

The Adobe Acrobat PDF format file version of the application can be completed and saved electronically, and returned via email. If you cannot use the PDF file, there is also a version in MS Word. Once again, the Word version of the application form can be completed and saved electronically, and returned by email. If neither of these two options work for you, alternatively you may print either the PDF or Word file, and complete it legibly by hand. You can either mail it or take it with you to our monthly meeting.

Bernalillo County ARES Membership Form

Click here to download – PDF file, fill out, save and email your completed, saved application to the BC ARES emergency Coordinator and District Emergency Coordinator. Contact information is on the Contacts page of this website.


Click here to download – Word(R) file, fill out, save and email your completed, saved application to the BC ARES emergency Coordinator and District Emergency Coordinator. Contact information is on the Contacts page of this website.


Emergency service is one of the basics of the Amateur Radio Service. There is sometimes confusion about ARES, the ARRL arm of emergency services and RACES, the government arm of amateur emergency services.

ARES is activated before, during and after an emergency. Generally, ARES handles all emergency messages, including those between government emergency management officials. RACES, on the other hand, almost never starts before an emergency and is active only during the emergency and during the immediate aftermath if government emergency management offices need communications support. RACES is normally shut down shortly after the emergency has cleared.

As of the date this is published here online, April 2017, there’s nothing in FCC regulations Part 97 about ARES specifically. ARES operators are, of course, bound by all applicable Part 97 rules, but they aren’t bound by the specific emergency rules as specified in §97.407, as stations operating under RACES are. RACES stations are limited by Part 97 as to with whom they can communicate, which messages they may pass, and how long drills may last. While ARES operators have greater flexibility, it is important to know the Amateur Radio Service can be suspended.

The concept of a standby “Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service” to replace the conventional “Amateur Radio Service” during wartime was developed in 1952 as result of input from the American Radio Relay League and the Department of the Army’s Office of Civil Defense. During World War II, the Amateur Radio Service had been silenced and a new War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) had to be created from scratch in a process that took six months. The resulting standby RACES was designed to provide a quicker and smoother transition in the event the President ever needed to silence the regular Amateur Radio Service again when invoking the War Powers Act of 1941. Despite four wars involving the United States since 1952, this has never happened yet.

RACES operation is conducted by Amateur Radio Service licensees using their own primary license call sign and by existing RACES licensees who hold RACES licenses. Club and military recreation stations are also eligible if authorized by a civil defense organization locally with the appropriate control operator [97.407(a)]. If you are operating under ARES, you can also use your own primary license and call sign or any other call sign authorized by a given control operator.

Note that there are fewer than 250 RACES station licenses. Those calls or statin IDs have been issued from the WC#$$$ call sign block such as WC1AAA. They’ve been assigned to certain civil defense organizations, not to individual amateurs. The FCC stopped issuing new RACES licenses in 1978, and at the time this is written in April 2017, the FCC will not renew existing ones. The FCC will not issue WC#$$$ calls under the Vanity program.

RACES drills and tests can’t exceed a total time of one hour per week. With proper authorization, such drills and tests may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours and such drills can occur no more than twice in a calendar year [97.407(e)]. There are no specific limits on ARES drills and tests. These rules aren’t there to restrict amateurs unduly, but to protect the Amateur Radio Service from non-amateur abusers. The drill time limits were implemented in 1976 because, among other things, local government land mobile communications operators were using the amateur service improperly.

If participating amateurs are registered in ARES and RACES, they can switch hats as conditions dictate. ARRL and FEMA both recommend dual membership. Stations operating under ARES have much more flexibility because the main purpose of ARES is to serve the emergency communications needs of many agencies, not just the government. RACES is structured and rigid and must be activated by a local civil defense official; ARES can be activated by an ARRL official such as the local ARRL Emergency Coordinator (EC).

Registering for RACES

Your local civil defense office or Emergency Operations Center government personnel determine how to register for and participate in RACES. In Bernalillo County currently, the county Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been supportive of Amateur Radio and has an active ARES group supporting various Auxiliary Communications functions. While we do not speak for and are not intending to speak for government authorities, you, your training and expertise and commitment to serving providing emergency and disaster communications (FEMA Emergency Support Function 2) can become known to these government officials through their regular interaction with Bernalillo County ARES management and members.

RACES and ARES are both vital organizations and need your participation to make them effective. To register with ARES, download the application form to which there is a link above on this page, complete the form and send it to the Bernalillo County ARES Emergency Coordinator and District Emergency Coordinator. You can find their contact information on the Contacts page of this website. Another option if you don’t know who is your EC or DEC is, contact your ARRL New Mexico Section Manager. Once you are known for your service in ARES within Bernalillo County, you increase your visibility to be invited by government officials to become a participant in RACES here.