The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC have announced Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2:20 p.m. EDT as the scheduled date and time for this year’s annual nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). (Note that unlike the past two years, the scheduling date is on a Thursday, not a Wednesday as some may be accustomed.)

Immediately preceding the EAS national test, FEMA this year will also conduct a test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, which delivers emergency alerts to cell phones and other wireless devices.  All wireless providers who have opted to participate in the WEA will be required to participate in this first national test of that system.  Although EAS participants do not need to take any additional action because of the WEA system test, users should be aware that all WEA-capable wireless devices in the nation will receive a test message at 2:18 on Sept. 20.

As with previous nationwide testing of the EAS, participants should file their ETRS Form 1 providing information about their EAS equipment, this year by Aug. 27, in advance of the national test. On Sept. 20, the FCC will expect participants to monitor their equipment and file a “day-of-test” ETRS Form 2 by the end of the day on Sept. 20.  As in past years, Form 2 will simply require the EAS participant to certify whether it received and retransmitted the national test message.

Based on our previous experiences with EAS testing, we would expect that there will be some congestion in the ETRS system after the test, so you should probably be prepared to spend some time completing your filings.

Finally, all EAS participants will also be required to file a post-test ETRS Form 3 on or before Nov. 5. Form 3 will require participants to identify the specific times at which they received and retransmitted the test message, the source(s) from which they received the test message (including which source it was received from first), the language in which the message was received and retransmitted, and any complications they experienced.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the EAS or WEA National Tests or ETRS systems and filings.