The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and KIRO-AM 710 announced a joint upgrade effort last week to produce a modern emergency broadcast studio in Seattle focused on improved emergency alert systems.
Deemed critical to the nation’s emergency alert and warning system, the KIRO-AM studio is a primary entry point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), responsible for alerting the public to information critical before, during, and after disaster incidents. FEMA is required to initiate upgrades to PEP stations like this due to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act passed in 2015.
PEPs are key to maintaining the flow of information at times when getting reliable information can be spottiest. As a result, FEMA equips these stations, though they are operated by local station personnel. Backup communications equipment and power generators are installed to enable continued broadcasting even through emergencies, and the facilities themselves — located at radio transmitter sites — are specially designed to withstand various natural and human-inflicted disasters.
“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,” Darrell Brown, president of Bonneville International, which owns KIRO-AM 710, said. “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.”
KIRO-AM is one of 77 PEP stations currently operating in the United States, guaranteeing the capability to reach 90 percent of the U.S. population at even the worst times. Since the demand for upgrades was implemented, KIRO-AM is the 14th PEP station to be readied for all-hazards use, increasing sheltering capabilities, expanded broadcast capacity, and sustainable power generation to guarantee operation through various hazardous materials events.