EC8 (El Cerrito CERT Area 8)
Neighborhood Emergency Communication Network

The purpose of this website is to provide an overview of the coordination between neighborhood FRS or GMRS radio networks and amateur radio operators for emergency communication.
This website will have announcements and information specifically for El Cerrito CERT area 8 (EC8), but the concepts described below are applicable to any area.


EC8 Neighborhood Net announcements:

The next EC8 neighborhood net radio communication exercise is scheduled for Wednesday evening, Jan. 4th at 8PM on FRS/GMRS channel 4.


Please email any questions or comments to Tom Fattaruso, KN6BUY



Map of El Cerrito CERT area 8

     Explanation of CERT areas: Our local Community Emergency Response Training organization (CERT) has designated 11 areas, or districts, in El Cerrito and 6 area/districts in Kensington for coordination in times of an emergency. Links to all El Cerrito/Kensington CERT area/districts are here.



Overview of coordination between neighborhood FRS/GMRS networks
and amateur radio operators for emergency communication


Amateur radio operators' role in emergency communication

     In the event of a large scale disaster such as an earthquake or fire in our area, there is a possibility that electric power, land-line telephone, cell phone, and internet services may not be working. Volunteer amateur radio (also known as ham radio) operators in our area train to be ready to set up in various locations around our cities to provide emergency communication with our local Emergency Operation Center (EOC). For El Cerrito and Kensington, the EOC located in El Cerrito City Hall (if there is no substantial damage to City Hall). EOC operators receive messages requesting help from the amateur radio operators and then direct the messages to the applicable emergency service.

The KARO-ECHO organization

     The local amateur radio organization which provides training and practice for emergency communication methods is KARO-ECHO (Kensington Amateur Radio Operators and El Cerrito Ham Operators). The KARO-ECHO website contains many pages of useful information describing emergency communication methods.


Neighborhood FRS/GMRS radio operators' role in emergency communication

     In order for the amateur radio operators stationed in our area to be informed about emergency situations in individual homes, blocks, or neighborhoods, neighborhood two-way radio networks (nets) are being organized in which volunteers use short range two-way radios that do not require an amateur radio license. Depending on the number of neighborhood radio network volunteers available, ideally there will be block teams, block captains, and a CERT area leader organizing the neighborhood emergency messages to be relayed to the amateur radio operator who then relays the message to the EOC. The KARO-ECHO website includes a detailed description of the organization of neighborhood radio networks.

     Some of the the El Cerrito and Kensington CERT areas already have neighborhood nets organized and have scheduled practice exercises. Area EC8, for which this website provides information, is looking for volunteers who are interested in participating in a neighborhood area radio network and being a service to their community. Participation involves obtaining a two-way radio and having the time available to participate in practice exercises, typically a half hour each month, and a simulated emergency test (SET), typically a Saturday morning, twice a year.


Two-way radio types not requiring an amateur radio licence

     The least expensive but shortest range type of two-way radio that may be used without an amateur radio license for a small area radio network is an FRS radio (Family Radio Service). A more useful and longer range radio type, GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service), may also be used in a neighborhood network but the operator must purchased a no-exam license ($70) before this higher power type radios may be legally used. FRS and GMRS radios use the same frequencies, or channels, so both types can communicate with the other. More details:

Family Radio Service (FRS):



General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS):




Interested in an amateur radio license?
     This web page has been about using FRS or GRMS radios but for anyone who becomes interested in getting an amateur radio license, there is plentiful help and guidance available. Studying for and passing an exam demonstrating knowledge of electronics and FCC amateur radio regulations is required but there is no longer a requirement for being able to send and receive Morse code as there was years ago. Study guides are readily available, many local amateur radio clubs offer study and exam preparation classes, and many licensed amateurs will be happy to assist in any way possible. An amateur radio license enables the holder to use equipment with a far greater range than FRS or GMRS radios.



Updated 1/3/23