FEMA and KIRO-AM Seattle Unveil New Emergency Broadcast Studio
11/18/2021 7:08 PM
SEATTLE — Together, FEMA and Bonneville Seattle have completed an important modernization at the emergency radio broadcast facility at Bonneville International’s KIRO-AM 710 in Seattle. This modernization project improves emergency alert systems that provide critical alerts and warnings to the public.
The KIRO-AM facility serves as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), maintained under FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and provides critical information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters.
Under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act enacted in 2015, Congress required FEMA to upgrade PEP stations across the country to ensure continuity of terrestrial broadcast services under all hazards. PEP stations are specially designated NPWS broadcast stations that serve as the primary intake source of initial broadcasts for a national alert. FEMA equips these stations, which are operated by local station personnel, with backup communications equipment and power generators that enable them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency, including conveying official alerts to communities regionally and nationwide. These free-standing emergency studios, located at the radio transmitter sites, are specially designed and hardened to withstand various natural disasters and acts of terrorism. This helps ensure that the President can alert and warn the public under all conditions. Currently, there are 77 PEP stations that are capable of reaching 90 percent of the U.S. population.
KIRO-AM is the 14th PEP station to complete the all-hazards upgrade. The modernization to the emergency studio includes increased sheltering capabilities, expanded broadcast capacity, and sustainable power generation for all types of hazardous events, increasing KIRO-AM’s resiliency to continue broadcasting during emergencies.
“It’s an honor for Bonneville Seattle to serve the community and we are proud to partner with FEMA. We share and salute the agency’s commitment to protecting the public,” said Darrell Brown, President, Bonneville International. “Radio is a lifeline, and the new studio and continued investment will ensure KIRO-AM 710’s resiliency during times of crisis when communication is vital.”
"For generations, the KIRO-AM signal has been designated by the federal government as the one to broadcast critical information in case of a major disaster," said Cathy Cangiano, Senior VP/Market Manager, Bonneville Seattle. "It's a responsibility we take seriously. We are committed to getting out lifesaving information when our region needs us."
If required, and in a national worst-case scenario, KIRO-AM would broadcast a message from the President or other national authorities within 10 minutes. Via FEMA’s Emergency Alert System, other radio stations in the Seattle area would begin re-broadcasting the information coming from KIRO and its news staff. Local authorities, such as the King County Office of Emergency Management, may also disseminate life-saving information by way of the new facilities installed at the KIRO tower site.
FEMA, KIRO and King County are partners in distributing life-saving emergency information to the public.
FEMA and Bonneville Seattle will hold an event on Friday, November 19, 2021, (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT) to unveil the upgraded KIRO-AM transmitter and PEP Site (22805 Dockton Road SW, Vashon, WA 98070.) The news conference will include FEMA and local officials, as well as a live demonstration from KIRO-AM 710 on-air hosts.
- Antwane Johnson, Director, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, FEMA
- Manny Centeno, IPAWS Program Manager, FEMA
- Brendan McCluskey, Director, King County Office of Emergency Management
- Jason Shirron, Technical Operations Coordinator, King County OEM
- Vince Maykovich, Acting Regional Administrator, FEMA Region 10
- Cathy Cangiano, VP/Market Manager, Bonneville Seattle
- Jason Ornellas, Regional Director of Engineering, Bonneville International West Region
- Dave Ross, On-Air Host, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
For more information about IPAWS or the PEP modernization effort, go to FEMA’s website at https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/practitioners/integrated-public-alert-warning- system/broadcasters-wireless. To learn more about Bonneville Seattle and KIRO-AM 710 Seattle, visit https://bonneville.com/our-markets/seattle/.