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Joined: Sat, Apr 4th 1998, 00:00 Roles: N/A Moderates: N/A

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There are many layers to this, and any issue of served-agency/amateur radio interaction, and the roles we impose on our government for responsible management of money and assets.

A little more back-story... Things were 'looser' 20-30+ years ago when the CalFire VIP program was more viable, 'necessary' and used ham radio more, before the State got necessarily more serious about providing its own communications infrastructures. Hopefully anyone can agree that public-/life-safety should have the best tools available to support us as they do their duties. Then chiefs had some discretion over the property/sites and volunteers in their regions, and the level of discipline and processes, etc. varied. The CalFire VIP program, in those regions that have one, shifted from front-line communications to supporting State-provided technical equipment. Staff, records, policy shifts lost track of a lot of chief-authorized radio presence and who owned/operated them. The technical criteria, if any applied, to equipment in State sites got tighter, and records of older systems/approvals unknown. There is also responsible cost-accounting not so much considered before.

Otherwise, it's challenging for anyone or a State entity to validate unaffiliated groups - those without MoUs, etc. There is a difference between claiming you provide a service and validating same if you don't have an official sponsor, MoU, statement of work/service, supervision, etc. Yes, a number of elected and career officials DO recognize amateur radio, but it's not required they do so. "Common sense" suggests they do so, but with that comes a management requirement not all can facilitate due to limited budget, staff, etc.

Note that California is the genesis of SEMS, what FEMA adopted into ICS, and "auxillary communications service" of which they still maintain an active official program, like CalFire VIP. Not much ham radio involved in that work, but it is supported as a back-channel alternative and inter-tie to NGO's off official comms systems.

If we're serious about this we'll maturely, responsibly organize, discipline, train, credential, seek background checks, establish commitments and management that a local community, NGO or agency can trust and embrace. That doesn't always happen - some folks just don't like organization, accountability.

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