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Ham Radio Helps Palo Alto Fire Dept.

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (KCBS)- Ham radio operators in Palo Alto will be busy over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

They’re being pressed into service by the fire department to help out with the fireworks watch.

20 ham radio operators have answered the call; Suzan Minshall is emergency manager for the Palo Alto Fire Department.

“They will all be in a position among 27 hundred acres of open space preserve, all the way from the Bay Lands up to Skyline. There will be 13 different positions and they’ll be checking in and reporting,” said Minshall.

Ham radio operator Mark Foster who’s in charge of the effort says they’re able to maintain communications in many cell phone dead spots like up in the Palo Alto Hills.

“With the Ham radios, they’re actually completely independent of any infrastructure and you can talk radio to radio. Sometimes the distance there is relatively short, it may be measured in miles or tens of miles, the ham radio operators know how to get distance and know how to use particular antennas to gain the ability to get further distances and cover larger areas,” said Foster.

The terrain is also a challenge for fire department radios.

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