An impromptu 'briefing' on
California's OES Law Enforcement and Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid Systems
From Don Root
The Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) is the state's
Emergency Management agency, and coordinates California's Master
Mutual Aid system. Two major sub-systems are the Law Enforcement
and the Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid systems.
OES owns and operates 3 interconnected Mobile Relay radio networks
for Mutual Aid coordination, and oversees a number of communications
channels for field level coordination purposes. All of this is
known as "SMARS" [Statewide Mutual Aid Radio System].
The interconnected networks are:
[Calif. Emergency Services Radio System], 153.755
CESRS has 21 interconnected sites around the state (and 4 stand
alone radios not interconnected). It is used for radio coordination
between OES staff (51xx and 51xxx units) and our facilities in
Sacramento, Fresno, Los Alamitos, Oakland, San Diego, San Luis
Obispo, and Santa Barbara; and between our Regional Emergency
Operations Centers (EOCs) [in Oakland, Los Alamitos, and Sacramento]
and around 30 county EOCs. Other users of CESRS are the facilities
of the Calif. Youth Authority [for their direction & control
purposes], and the Department of General Services'
Telecommunications Division units ("Area xx", and "DC-xxxx" units),
who maintain it all.
[Calif. Law Enforcement Radio System], various
in 150 and 450 MHz bands
CLERS is the Law Enforcement 'dispatcher to dispatcher' mutual aid
network, and consists of 26 'cells' covering the state. Some areas
(like the East Sierra / Owens Valley area and Ukiah / Clearlake) are
served by direct drops off the state microwave system. Otherwise,
the users are served by a VHF or UHF repeater in their area. Some
areas (Contra Costa County, for example) are really active; others
are not so active day-to-day. CLERS also serves as the State's
distribution network for Emergency Alert System (EAS) program feeds,
and is occasionally used by CHP aircraft to coordinate with their
[and Rescue Radio Network], 154.160 and 154.220
a combination of 33 and 159 MHz inputs)
OES FIRE has three purposes. First, it is used to coordinate
between the 65 Fire Operational Area Mutual Aid Coordinators,
the 6 Regional Mutual Aid Coordinators, and OES Fire & Rescue
Branch's EOC at HQ in Sacramento. Second, it is used between
OES Fire & Rescue HQ and the OES Fire field staff [52xx units]
enroute to or at major emergencies. Third, it is used to
coordinate any and all of the above points with the 130+ OES
Engines and support vehicles located in local fire departments
around the state.
OES FIRE, with 22 sites, is the state's oldest technology repeater
system (lowband input, highband output), although we are in the
process of converting the network to VHF-Hiband only. Due to
various factors, this has not been a 'clean' process. As a result,
we have a hodge-podge of frequency and access tone combinations
[and multiple channel names, unfortunately] in place throughout
the network. We are hoping for funding next fiscal year (starting
July 1, 2000) to replace the 70+ base stations in the network,
which will allow us to 'retire' the 33 MHz inputs (the mobile and
handheld fleet is all VHF-Hiband) and bring the name nomenclature
back in line.
The SMARS field level channels are:
[Calif. Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio System] (below)
There are CLEMARS frequencies in each Public Safety radio band
(except the 220-222 MHz band). CLEMARS is used for on-scene Law
Enforcement communications. The nationwide Law frequency of
155.475 is included in the CLEMARS plan.
Frequencies to monitor [CLEMARS Ch. #]:
- Statewide: 39.46 [6,7], 154.920 , 154.935 , 155.475 ,
460.025 [4,5], 868.5125 [8,9].
- Los Angeles Basin: 484.2375 
- "Northern California" (North of the line making up the north edge
of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and San Bernardino Counties): 866.2000
Coming soon to the Bay Area: 489.1625 [23,24]
(Yes, that _is_ SFFD Control 4. OES to get it after their move to
the 800 system.)
Note: City of San Francisco canceled the license before granting OES co-licensing, and a private trunking system stepped into the temporary void and grabbed up the frequency
CALCORD [Calif. On-scene Coordination Channel] (156.075)
CALCORD is a mobile-only channel for use on scene as a command
channel. Yes, it is also Coast Guard channel 61A, but we have
it licensed out of the old Highway Maintenance pool. No base
stations are allowed (FCC regulation).
WHITE FIRE frequencies (WHITE FIRE 1, 154.280; WHITE FIRE 2,
154.265; and WHITE FIRE 3, 154.295), and the FIREMARS Channels
- The WHITE FIRE frequencies (not "OES White") are used for multiple
agency fire coordination operations. By FCC rules, base stations
are permitted on WHITE FIRE 1 (154.280) only [except L.A. County
Fire has a waiver for 154.295, as they were there before the FCC
designated the frequency as "intersystem"].
The old OES "FireMARS" system (153.830 in, 154.295 out, using
handhelds and portable repeaters) is dead. The BART UNDERGROUND
(153.770/154.295) will disappear with BART's move to 800.
The FIREMARS channels ("FIREMARS", 868.9875; and "FIREMARS 2",
866.9125 in the "Northern California" area defined under CLEMARS,
above) are designated for Fire & EMS operations by those agencies
operating on 800 MHz.
NATIONAL PLAN (800 MHz) Interoperability channels (866.0125,
866.5125, 867.0125, 867.5125, and 868.0125)
When the FCC opened the 821-824/866-869 MHz spectrum to Public
Safety use in the 1980s, the FCC established an advisory committee
(the National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee, or
"NPSPAC") to recommended rules for the assignment and utilization
of the new spectrum. NPSPAC recommended (and the FCC adopted) 5
Interoperability channels - a calling channel, and 4 tactical.
In negotiating the border interface zones with Canada and Mexico,
these 5 pairs were also adopted by those countries for Public
Safety interoperability use. The channels, therefore, are known
as I-CALL (866.0125), and I-TAC 1 thru 4 (866.5125, 867.0125,
867.5125, and 868.0125 respectively). Under the plans developed
by California's two Planning Regions, OES administers the use of
STACOM ["STAte COMmunications", AKA "Operation SECURE"] (HF)
Under "Operation SECURE" (State's Emergency Communications Using
Radio Effectively), the FCC established frequencies in the 2-10
MHz range for State Government use. Each state can license up
to 10 channels for intra- and inter-state emergency management
communications. OES and CALTRANS use these frequencies, along
with selected federal and local EOC sites in remote areas
for an additional communications path when needed. Because of
some confusion caused by the "SECURE" name, we call this network
"STACOM". The network uses standard SSB for comms.
Don Root (5191)
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