FCC OKs WEA Test in Wildfire-Prone Los Angeles

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The FCC authorized the city of Los Angeles to conduct an end-to-end test of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on November 16, at 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Participating carriers and the city’s Emergency Management Department will take part in the exercise. The EMD told the Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau the test would be conducted to support the Los Angeles Fire Department’s wildfire evacuation exercise and will serve two purposes: (1) assess the LA Emergency Management Department’s ability to successfully execute the WEA process, and (2) promote wildfire and evacuation preparedness for high-risk communities.

Los Angeles is threatened by increasingly intense and persistent wildfires, particularly in the “Wildland Urban Interface” areas, according to the EMD. This WEA test target area is not only at the highest risk of wildfire but also is an area in which both delivery of emergency messages and evacuation of residents is difficult.

The Emergency Management Department also notes that high fire danger weather “Red Flag” warnings issued by the National Weather Service and fire meteorologists of the Los Angeles Fire Department are becoming more frequent and lengthy. Red Flag conditions cause electric utilities to preemptively turn off power in high-risk areas during high-risk weather conditions.

The bureau requires the exercise and any post-test analysis and reports the L.A. Emergency Management Department may conduct are done in a manner consistent with customers’ expectations of privacy, confidentiality of participating carriers’ network information, and the overall security of the WEA systems and infrastructure. The agency encourages members of the public who wish to share their experience with the test to do so by filing a description of that experience with the FCC’s Public Safety Support Center.

October 21, 2019

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