Fire Chiefs Support Linking WEA to FM Smartphones

According to the report in Radio Business Report (RBR), The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is urging the FCC to explore activated FM chips in cellphones because of radio’s importance during a crisis. The FCC wants to raise the 90-character limit of current Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages to 360 characters. The smartphone alerts began in 2012 with the goal of directing consumers to their local radio and television stations for more information.

IAFC President Rhoda Mae Kerr stated that the group supports that expansion, calling the current limit “wholly inefficient.” The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) told the fire chiefs’ lobby that the industry would like to add automatic URL links to WEA messages so users could access over-the-air messages on their smartphones via an FM chip in the device. According to the NAB, FM radio-linked WEA messages would also allow consumers to avoid exhausting their data plans and battery life during emergencies. IAFC also urged the FCC to work with wireless service providers to develop standard approaches for accessing FM tuners in smartphones for WEA messages.