Palo Alto calls on amateur radio operators for Fourth of July fire watch

The Palo Alto Fire Department will be calling on amateur radio operators on the Fourth of July to look out for potential fires in the foothills and keep their eyes peeled for illegal fireworks.

The July 4 fire watch activation is an annual event in which the city collaborates with Palo Alto Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civilian Emergency Services, or ARES/RACES, in an effort to prevent blazes. Members of ARES/RACES are volunteers who have been licensed as amateur radio operators.

Suzan Minshall, emergency manager for the fire department, said the fire watch activation takes place on Independence Day “because that’s when a lot of people set off illegal fireworks,” in what is typically the fire season.

Radio operators will be placed at more than a dozen locations, including the Stanford Dish, Arastradero Preserve and Los Trancos Woods. They’ll report unusual activity to the Palo Alto communications center, which will notify police officers and firefighters.
“It’s a formal activation, but it serves as a drill as well,” Minshall said. The city views ARES/RACES as a communications resource during disasters and large-scale emergencies.Following a 6 p.m. briefing, radio operators will head to their locations from 7:30 to 10 p.m.


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