What is the Difference Between ARES and RACES?

One of the primary functions of the Amateur Radio Service is Emergency service.  There is quite a bit of confusion about ARES, the ARRL arm of emergency services and RACES, the government arm of amateur emergency services.

According to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), “the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.”  In this context, the word “service” is consistent with the meaning of public service — actions carried out with the purpose of providing a public service.  ARES is an organization of individuals who apply their specialized telecommunications skills for public service.

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), on the other hand, is a reserve radio service provided for in Part 97.407 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations governing amateur radio in the United States.  The word “service” in RACES refers to categorization of users of the radio spectrum that have a common specific radiocommunication purpose. A few examples include the Aeronautical Mobile Service, the Land Mobile Service, the Family Radio Service (FRS), and, of course, the Amateur Service.  RACES is an FCC-regulated radio service.  To be eligible to participate in RACES communications, a radio amateur must register with his or her local civil defense agency agency and also register his or her amateur station and capabilities with that agency.

There is a lot of really good information about ARES and RACES in the ARES Field Manual.  Volusia ARES members are expected to have read and to be familiar with the information in this manual.

ARES Membership Requirements

Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES.  Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES.  Please inquire at the local level for specific information.  Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.